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Free online courses for furloughed workers across Northern Ireland

The Open University in Northern Ireland has worked in close partnership with the Department for the Economy to produce an initial suite of free online courses for furloughed workers and others who have lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched by the Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA, the courses cover digital skills, employability and essential skills. The options include digital literacy, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, leadership, communication, mathematics and English.

The Open University’s Director in Northern Ireland, John D’Arcy, said “The Open University is delighted to able to work swiftly with the Department for the Economy to provide this initial range of courses for furloughed workers and people who have lost jobs due to the COVD-19 pandemic”.

Mr D’Arcy added “The Open University is a leading global provider of distance and online learning. The current pandemic has forced new ways of working, learning and living on everyone in Northern Ireland. We believe we can build on this initial work with the Department to help citizens not just develop their skills during lockdown but also make full use of our educational content from beginners’ courses right through to postgraduate qualifications”.

IoD’s National Director, Kirsty McManus endorsed this provision saying "IoD would like to acknowledge the great leadership shown by the OU in launching this online platform training for furlough staff.  Providing furloughed workers with an opportunity to upskill and expose them to new and growing industries such as cybersecurity will help ease the economic impact of this pandemic.”

At the heart of The Open University’s online content is its OpenLearn platform which is now experiencing record numbers of visitors to the site.  Usually recording an average of 40,000 visits per day, since the first week of schools and businesses being closed over 160,000 people each day are taking advantage of the free content and courses on offer.

The site offers everyone a chance to explore a variety of topics, from teaching online and courses designed to aid mental and physical health, to family friendly interactive animations and quizzes, OpenLearn provides thousands of pages of content to help you.

The OpenLearn platform was set up by The OU as a commitment to support the wellbeing of the community and now more than ever that is proving to be the case.

For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Officer
Tel 028 9053 6219