Most people learned basic work skills by finishing high school and going to college. There are also a lot of ways to gain work skills outside of the classroom — for free or little money.
Ask About Your Field — Talk to two or three people currently working in the type of job you want. Ask them what skills and qualifications employers want for similar jobs. Also ask about professional organizations other opportunities you might not know about. This type of conversation is called an informational interview.
Use the Skills You Have — Volunteer to use an Employability Skill you already have at your community school, for a nonprofit agency or for a professional organization. In addition to expanding your Professional Community, you can build skills you can use in your next job. Employers want to know how you use the skills and knowledge you have. Talking about your volunteer experiences in a job interview is a good way to demonstrate what you can do.
Get Carded — A library card can be your best friend. Public Library systems have access to books, videos, audio files, websites, software, and local and national experts that can help you learn about ANYTHING. If the public library in your area is small, it is probably connected to a larger network of information sources that you could image. If you need to learn a specific technical skills for a position, call your local library or go to their website to find out what resources they can loan you or help you access — usually for free. In addition to public libraries, some colleges and universities allow current students and alumni to access their networks of information sources.
Turn to Your Community — Your local school district or an education co-op might offer free and low-cost Community Education classes, also known as Adult Enrichment, or Community-based Education. Classes are held in the evenings and on weekends and are taught by local experts and community leaders. Search for classes to help build your reading, writing, math, or general knowledge. Community Education also offers art, world language, computer, history and cooking classes. Employers will be impressed that you took the time to take a class to increase your skills or knowledge in a certain area. Employers like life-long learners.
Look At Your Current Work — The easiest way to gain new skills might be at the job you have now. Is there a project or topic you are interested in learning more about? The Muse suggests you ask a supervisor or coworker in that department if you could help with the project. Colleagues might be grateful for the extra help, and be willing to teach you the skills you need to work on the project.
Plug Into Online Classes — God invented the Internet so that The Masses could have easy access to information needed to make the world a better place. And cat videos. And online shopping. And porn. The Internet was invented so we could all have access to cat videos, online shopping, porn and the information we need to make the world a better place … but not necessarily in that order.
Here is a list of (safe for work) online courses and tutorials free-of-charge for any adult to learn or increase their skills and knowledge in a variety of topics.
Here is a separate list of podcasts to inspire the underemployed and career changers.