Acquiring New Skills is Just a Click Away

Acquiring New Skills is Just a Click Away

Greg Cannon writes for – a Ms.Money partner.

I built a Web page today. Nothing fancy, really. Just a simple place to showcase some of my writing. That may not seem like a big deal. But considering that just a few days ago, my knowledge of HTML was limited largely to what the term stands for, it is a big deal.

Thanks to one of eWork’s two partnerships with leading online training providers, and, I found just the HTML course I was looking for and, in a matter of a few hours spread over three days, I was “doing code.”

Done right, the benefits of training are obvious to everyone: independent professionals that arm themselves with new skills are more marketable and able to command higher pay rates.

“We really encourage independent professionals to add to and update their skill base,” says eWork Exchange’s Product Marketing Manager, Liz Belote. “With new, marketable skills, they can increase their rates, increase their matches, and make better use of eWork Exchange.”

And project managers that provide independents with much sought-after access to training resources have a leg up in the battle for qualified independents.

But the costs of some traditional training methods can infringe mightily on their benefits, particularly for independents.

After two decades with companies like Time Warner, Viacom, and AOL, Dave Archer,’s Vice President of Business Development is familiar with some of the problems of classroom-based training.

“I can safely say, after 20 years of showing up in those classrooms, they’re either too slow or too advanced,” Archer says. When confronted with a group of people with varying skill levels, such courses have a natural tendency to teach to the middle of the pack. On top of that, Archer adds, “You end up taking a big chunk of time out of your day.”

I know what he means. As with many people, my past experiences with computer training came courtesy of a large company that could afford to send me across town for two days to sit in a conference room and socialize, drink coffee, and learn Microsoft Project.

But now, as a freelance writer wanting to learn just enough HTML to construct a simple page, I lack the time, money, and, frankly, the patience to sit in a classroom full of people of varying aptitudes hoping to get my questions answered. Having classmates to bounce questions and ideas off of is great when you’re discussing philosophy and everyone has something to say, less so when you just want to know whether to type a forward-slash or backward-slash.

Enter online training. Through its partnerships with and, eWork Exchange offers its members access to upwards of 3,000 on-line courses covering everything from people skills to certification training for database administrators. More courses are being added all the time. They come from well-known publishers like Skill Soft, ZDE and netG and others. Many of them were previously available only to Fortune 500 companies.

Both and provide value to learners far beyond selling online courses, offering things like skills assessment that help you figure out which courses fit you best, portfolios to track progress, and limited-time, free course offerings to introduce users to the respective services.

And, in the true spirit of interactivity, also provides authoring and publishing tools to users with knowledge to share. eWorkers can create a course, submit it for inclusion in the catalog and profit from its use. And for all courses, you can check out the ratings of past users, where available.

Though used by large and small organizations alike, these courses are particularly suited to independent professionals who can decide for themselves just what they want to learn and just when they want to learn it.

By providing a variety of courses targeted at specific skill levels, eWork’s partners deliver training in manageable components so users can decide how best to configure them, based on what they need to know and how much time and money they want to spend.

For independents that don’t have a company’s training budget to draw upon, “You don’t have to pay a huge sum of money to access our services,” says Greg Mead, Business Development Director for “They can do it on a step-by-step basis.”

“I think the advantage of online training is you can do it at your own speed,” says’s Archer.

Because you’re learning at your own pace, online courses take up to 50% less time, cost 90% less than traditional classroom courses and allow learners to retain up to 90% more information, according to

Independents, in particular, will find the cost savings and flexible scheduling helpful. My HTML course costs just $12, although thanks to a special promotion in cooperation with eWork Exchange, I took it for free.

I learned just as much as I needed to for now. I can take higher-level courses when I’m ready to get more sophisticated with my Web page, instead of having to learn a lot at once at the risk of forgetting most of it.