With South Africa officially into a 21-day lockdown period due to the COVID-19 coronavirus it will give us time to think where we come from and where we going.

The biggest problem facing the majority of South Africans is a lack of skills and for some a lack of proper skills. Many people studied for a career of which there is simply not too many opportunities available.

With many online learning platforms available especially affordable E-learning platforms people can learn or get a primer into a new skill without spending a lot of money.

Why learn a skill
Many people take a online course as a means to improve their current skills, but it can also be used as an introduction or primer to people with no skills. Now taking an online course is not going to make you proficient without putting in the practice but it can help you with something that no one can take away from you, knowledge.

  • Here is how having a skill can help you, starting from the very bottom:

    If you have nothing, no money and no skill and would like to get into an industry, via an internship or to work for what you can learn and not earn. Having a foundational knowledge will help you as you will be lower maintenance than someone who knows nothing. It can help you get through the door. In South Africa you are competing with tens of millions of people who have no skills, if you have a skill then your change of getting ahead is greatly increased.
  • Let’s say you want to start your own business. There are four components that make up any value chain: Skills/Equipment/Materials that is how you add value to anything whether you in a product or service business. Too many people are caught up trying to raise money, let me be clear: if you have nothing, nobody is going to lend you money.
  • You want to start a side business. You already have a business that pays the bills but want more.

What should you learn?
Too many people say you must learn computer programming, but the fact is not everyone will grasp it, some people are just better with their hands. Certainly if you can learn something like programming, 3D modelling, or even graphic design, then great, you have a business that you can run from home but more importantly there are online platforms where you can advertise your skills, starting with Fiverr to Upwork and many others.

There is no need to learn something glamorous, just something that can make you money to live on that you can grow or even as a means to an end, preferably something where labour adds most value. Where you can buy a raw material – add your skill (value) and sell at a big profit, taking into consideration that you only have so many time in the day especially as a one person business.

So what falls into this category?

Leather craft
Yes, leather is not cheap, but if you can buy a piece of leather and have the skills to make something from it, you can sell it for a decent profit.
Courses to look at:
DIY LeatherCrafting: Making Leather Sandals
Become a Master in Making Leather Bags
DIY LeatherCrafting: Make Your Own Leather Wallet

Photography
Yes, a decent DSLR camera is not cheap but there are secondhand options out there, that will reduce your cost significantly. There are many options: portrait photography, product photography and if you have the temperament: venue and wedding photography.
Courses to look at:
Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography
Beginner Canon Digital SLR (DSLR) Photography
Complete Guide to Wedding Photography

Writing & Translating
A very competitive business, but there are many clients that can’t afford to pay what writers charge. You can even open a writing studio where you source jobs, outsource to writers and take a cut.
Courses to look at:
Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery – Turn Your Business Writing, Blogs, Books & Essays Into Masterpieces

Wood Art
I have no idea whether there is any market for this but I am fascinated by this guys courses:
Creating Wood Art – An Intro to Handcrafted Wood Sculpture
Creating Wood Sculpture: Neptune
Steaming and Bending to Create “Tilted Arc”

What would I learn?
There is a 3D software called SketchUp, now before you run away screaming, I am not talking about 3D design like game or movie development, think more CAD, but easy to use. SketchUp is easier to use, can be used for furniture design, house plans, but what interests me the most is building prototypes and 3D printing design.
Here are some SketchUp courses:
Master SketchUp – A Definitive Guide From Infinite Skills
SketchUp for Woodworkers: bring your designs to life in 3D

SketchUp is interesting as it is both powerful to use and affordable. SketchUp was once owned by Google and was free, you can still download the older free versions or use the free online version from its new owner Trimble. The latest version costs $299 ex vat / year which is still a bargain for 3D software.

There are more, but you have to apply your mind no matter what course you decide on, looking for fast solutions will get you nowhere.


You have a business idea, where to next?
How to Start a Business from Business Idea