LOCKDOWN should be a good time to learn new skills - and there are plenty of opportunities to link up with experts, tutors and others to learn online at home. Even the coffee breaks are virtual these days.
Podcasting has dominated training for London Freelance Branch in the past year. Months before lockdown, members said that was what they wanted in a training survey. Hamish Brown's day-long course - delivered by Zoom, not in a room at Headland House as first planned - was a sell-out in November. It is on offer again on Thursday 25 February. Just two of the ten places were left as the Freelance went up online.
Podcasting - An Introduction to Audio Recording and Editing for Journalists costs £30 and aims to teach those who attend how to capture good quality audio recording using freely available software. Between 10am and 4pm those signing up will record their own podcast and get feedback, technical tips and links to resources to use in future. For more details and to book a place visit Hamish Brown's Waymarker Training website.
LFB is also hosting a free 90-minute seminar on Working Safely Through the Pandemic in the early evening Thursday 11 February. This deals with the health and safety aspects of working from home in lonely lockdown as coronavirus rages - covering everything from bad backs from inadequate work station sets-ups to lockdown cabin fever and what to do about it all. Details are here.
The branch needs to know what members want before we commission more training - so expect an online survey soon. Please do fill it in and press send - it's your branch, remember. The LFB training officer post is now a job share - LFB member Romana Sustar brings considerable digital skills and a welcome fresh perspective to the role.
It's not just LFB who can help members gain new skills. The NUJ provides many courses our members can sign up to.
NUJ head office has commissioned First steps in freelancing courses on 12 February and 7 May and Winning and negotiating freelance work on 26 February and 14 May moved from 21 May. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
NUJ Training Scotland offers free courses for members who live there and charges £30 for those outside Scotland. February courses include scriptwriting and copyright and commissioning. NUJ Training Wales is currently offering Presenting yourself online and Survive and Thrive as a Freelancer among current courses. Details on the NUJ Cymru Wales Training website.
Many members have benefitted from free courses run by the Federation of Entertainment Unions - involving the NUJ, Equity, the Musicians Union and the Writers' Guild. In an alarmingly short-sighted move, the government, which has made it clear it wants business to play a greater role in skilling up workers, is cutting funding for this and other highly successful union-led training initiatives.
So, please take a moment to go to the FEU website for details of free Zoom courses and webinars before the axe is scheduled to fall in late March. And sign the petition urging the government to reinstate funding for the Union Learning Fund, which has helped skill-up and educate many thousands of union members across all sectors in recent decades. Over 50,000 people have already signed online.
Cutting access to free, trusted, quality training courses for "creatives", who have suffered disproportionately in the fallout from the Covid pandemic, seems - at best - ill-judged. So, don't just sign the petition - pass it on, retweet, repost and even make a fuss. Who knows, as the virus kills more people, jobs and expectations, the need for trusted quality training for working people in a world of uncertainty might just cut through.
03 February 2021