Furloughed workers are being offered free online training courses - here's how to sign up

The Department for Education (DfE) is set to launch free training courses on which furloughed adults to sharpen their digital skills.

With millions of workers currently furloughed, the DfE has teamed up with the Open University, Google and other providers to offer skill training - including numeracy, coding and internet skills.

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Given the future of the labour market is currently uncertain, the courses are designed to improve online skills, with the assumption that remote jobs may be the norm for some time.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the BBC that businesses should encourage staff to "boost their skills".

He urged furloughed employees to "improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak".

What are the courses available?

Those interested can access courses on the government's Skills Toolkit website. Courses include:

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- Resources from digital-inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation on how to help people get started online- Courses on basic maths and how to write computer code from the Open University- A course in digital marketing from Google- Courses in digital skills and producing online content from Futurelearn

The future of jobs is digital

The DfE says that the number of digital jobs available continues to grow faster than in most employment sectors.

The Skills Toolkit is part of preparations for a post-virus economy in which digital jobs are expected to be more resilient than others.

Though a variety of financial packages have been offered to businesses and the self-employed during the lockdown period, it is expected that some will not survive - or will be severely damaged by - the interruption to business.

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High street retailer Cath Kidston, for instance, has been forced to close all physical stores as a result of the pandemic.

Sir John Timpson, who chairs the Timpson retail group, recently warned that there would be some high street companies "that don't come back" after the pandemic is over.

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