Best Free Online Courses in South Africa

Free online training courses have become a highly valuable resource for people to upskill and make themselves more employable. This is particularly true if people don’t have funds available to spend on acquiring education, skills, certification and qualifications. Fields like digital marketing, content writing, social media management, business management, and coding are all areas where people can upskill online in order to make themselves more employable and/or work online for themselves.  

Some of the biggest providers of free online courses in South Africa include Alison, Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, HubSpot Academy, A Cloud Guru, Infosec Skills, LinkedIn Learning Pluralsight Skills, Udacity,, Udemy Business and Corporate Finance Institute. 

Benjamin Franklin’s memorable quote that an “investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” has never been truer than today. With new technologies appearing seemingly all the time, upskilling continuously has never been more important.  Look for free online courses with certificates if you’re looking for some kind of documentation to show to any potential employers or clients.

Here are 10 of the free online courses available to you in South Africa. Some may require payment for a certificate if one is involved.

The Complete Social Media Marketing Course

Free Social Media Marketing Course

This course will teach you those crucial ‘tricks of the trade’ regarding social media marketing! It’ll provide you with a thorough overview of what social media marketing involves and equip you with the most important skills you’ll need in this field. It will train you in using the most important social media platforms like Twitter,  Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. It will also cover the important concepts of split testing and funnel building.

Google Analytics for Beginners by Google Analytics Academy

This 4-6 hour course will teach you the crucial skills of creating an account, implementing a tracking code, and setting up data filters. It will also show you how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, as well as create shortcuts and set up dashboards.  The course is suitable for both advanced marketers who need a refresher, as well as beginners who need a solid grounding in all the basics of Google Analytics.

Innovative Finance: Hacking finance to change the world 

Designed by the University of Cape Town, this 2-week course covers important aspects of existing financial processes and tools. It will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to understand and create innovative financial strategies to achieve successful financial outcomes. 

Five particular points are covered: 

  • Identifying the outcomes you want to achieve
  • How to apply due diligence through techniques like design thinking 
  • Mapping all of the resources available to you 
  • Discovering the opportunities to expand these by working with multi-stakeholder partnerships, creative financial structures and innovative business models
  • Consolidating all these elements into innovative financial strategies.

Starting a Business 4: Business Processes 

This course, which was developed by the prestigious University of Leeds, is one of the most popular in South Africa. It gives students insights into how a business works and what can be done to ensure healthy business growth. It highlights the processes and information systems businesses rely on. It also focuses on how to improve productivity and how to identify the challenges every business faces. It points out who is involved in the various processes, and emphasises the skills needed to design and manage a business.

Content Marketing Certification by HubSpot Academy

This 12-lesson online course on content marketing teaches students how the creation of creative content, storytelling and repurposing can combine with effective promotion to create a content marketing engine that will grow your business and career. This course is particularly geared towards new content marketers, writers and managers. They’ll be taught a content creation framework that will ensure that they consistently produce and repurpose effective content that both search engines and customers will love!

Introduction to Cyber Security 

Cyber threats are one of the most fundamental issues in all computer usage today. This course informs students about the essential current cyber security trends.It will also equip you with the vital skills to safeguard your computer and digital information. It will teach you about network security and how to protect your digital data as it travels around the Internet in cyberspace. The course is supported by the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme and its provider is the Open University.

Viral Marketing and how to Create Contagious Content 

This 4-5-hour course by Coursera will explain why some promotions are ‘contagious’ and go ‘viral’, and other strategies don’t and just sink without trace. It will also teach you to apply those principles and ideas to evolve into a dynamic and more effective online marketer. This is a particularly fine course to do if your marketing endeavours aren’t being as effective as you hoped, and aren’t having a wide enough impact. Managers, brand managers and everyone who plays a part in content creation would benefit from this course.  


The Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work

This excellent University of London course will equip you with a practical ‘toolkit’ to help you manage people in the workplace. So whether you’re a first-time manager in a coffee shop or a rookie middle manager in a busy office environment, this same skill set will stand you in good stead. The course will equip you to employ the right people, and to evaluate, assess and motivate your team. It will also help you with making day-to-day managerial decisions as well as managing the staff conflicts that inevitably crop up in the workplace.

Communication Skills – Persuasion and Motivation by NPTEL

This outstanding course was developed by the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning in India. It will highlight and equip you with the practical communication skills you need to communicate with and motivate people. It introduces you to all the vital communication skills you need to persuade and win your audience to your side. The course does, however, also highlight the differences between manipulation and persuasion.

Marketing Fundamentals: Who Is Your Customer? by Babson College

This excellent 4-week course teaches you how to find the right customers, and how to access them in order to effectively grow your business. The course is designed for entrepreneurs who are unsure how to set about their initial marketing strategies. It also contains important guidelines about launching a new service or product, and how to reach and understand your ideal target market. In short, it’s a very good course for anybody who is interested in pursuing any career in marketing. 


With the wealth of free online courses available in South Africa, there’s simply no reason to put your dreams on hold. Just pick a course or courses that mesh with your interests and strengths, and then throw everything you have at it. And then the sky’s the limit! 

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