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12 Outstanding Tech Resources To Improve Your Skills

If you want to improve your tech skills and don’t know where to start, this list introduces you to some of the resources out there.

If you’re familiar with our advice pieces, you’ll know that we regularly mention various resources you can use to upskill in tech.

We’ve steered readers towards courses from the likes of Udemy, Udacity and Coursera for learning tech concepts from machine learning to data literacy skills. And we’ve pointed out Python meet-ups run by Python Ireland among others.

But what if you’re not sure what these platforms are? Or you aren’t sure which one is the best one for you and your learning style? Maybe you like the idea of Python Ireland and you want to find other similar groups.

Here is an introduction to some of the best resources out to hone your tech skills.

Coursera

Founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, Coursera is a global online learning platform for techies of all stripes.

It has partnerships with major companies like IBM and Google, as well as with universities such as Stanford and Imperial College London.

If you need a bit of guidance, scroll to the bottom section of the Coursera homepage and you’ll find articles that provide advice on how you can achieve a career in areas such as data analytics using the site.

In terms of courses, it provides everything from short certificates to longer postgraduate degree programmes.

Codeacademy

This one is for anyone who wants to brush up on their coding skills; the clue is in the name. Codeacademy offers free short courses in a variety of languages such as Python, C++, C, C+, Bash, Go, HTML, R, SQL and Ruby.

Codeacademy is particularly useful for people who like interactive learning, as it has links to cheatsheets, projects, video and coding challenges under Resources at the bottom of its homepage.

It has a pretty active online community, too.

edX

This Coursera rival – its founders are MIT and Harvard scientists – carries thousands of courses. Like Coursera, many are university-level, with edX making use of its partnerships with the likes of Boston University, University of Cambridge and Google.

Scroll to the bottom of the homepage and you’ll find boot camp courses in topics such as fintech and cybersecurity, as well as longer courses.

Data Camp

Like Codeacademy, Data Camp is quite hands-on and has a lot of short, free courses. It’s best for people who are interested in data science and related technologies.

You can select a specific skill you want to brush up on (like data literacy, NLP, machine learning) or you can explore different career paths such as data scientist, data analyst and statistician.

If you just want to get to grips with a particular tech tool (ChatGPT, Tableau) you can do that too.

Irish meet-up groups

Going along to events run by Irish tech community groups can be a fun way to keep on top of new tech trends and meet like-minded people.

You can find lots of different events on Meetup no matter what you’re interested in. Dublin Linux Community meets monthly, as does Python Ireland and Kubernetes Dublin.

If you want something more casual, there is a coffee chat for indie hackers in Dublin in early June. And it isn’t just the in capital: there are online events and conferences, as well as things going on in Cork, Galway and Belfast.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is another one to consider if you want to do an online tech course, even though it’s not as well known as some of the other names on this list.

Its short video lessons are good for beginners and it provides lessons and learning paths for children, too.

It is a non-profit organisation and it aims to educate people all over the world for free.

LinkedIn Learning

The educational offshoot of LinkedIn has business and tech courses galore for anyone who wants to perfect certain skills.

If you already have LinkedIn, LinkedIn Learning is a good bet as you can add your certificates of completion to your profile.

It’s not free, however, but it does offer a one-month free trial.

Pluralsight

Software educational platform Pluralsight provides learning plans for teams as well as individuals. It’s quite skills focused, perhaps more so than some of the other resources that include non-tech courses on their sites.

You can pick up new skills like cloud tech, programming and test your progress using specially designed exercises.

Skillshare

Best for creative techies, Skillshare carries courses in things such as graphic design and photography – but many of these areas are arguably tech focused.

If you’re interested in things like UX and UI design or how tech tools can be used for creative purposes, you may find a short course that takes your fancy.

It’s got a lot of creatives on its books that are willing to, yes, share their skills.

Digital Skillnet

An Irish resource for all things technological, Digital Skillnet is a great site to keep in mind for future educational and upskilling opportunities.

If you prefer the familiarity of an Irish-run organisation, it has plenty of information about the types of careers you can break into.

Whether you’re an employer looking to find resources and courses for employees, or an individual looking to reskill, upskill or find a tech job, Digital Skillnet should definitely be one of your first ports of call.

Udacity

Udacity is pretty good for anyone who wants to try out a tech course as it has a lot of short and beginner courses as well as longer ones.

It also has an AI chatbot running in beta which offers to assist you when you visit its website.

You can pick from courses on topics such as programming and development, AI, data science, business intelligence and cloud computing.

Scroll to the bottom of the homepage for in-depth career-related resources.

Udemy

One for bargain hunters, Udemy constantly runs sales on its courses. It has hundreds of thousands of courses, too, so you won’t have difficulty finding something.

It’s good for beginners as many of the courses are short and delivered through video. What’s cool about Udemy is there is so much on the site that you can quite easily find courses on a certain topic from beginner right through to specialist level.


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Folkestone dubbed the new Whitstable after undergoing a dramatic transformation

Every year around this time we hear of plans to regenerate run-down seaside towns and dreary resorts, from Margate to Morecambe. 

Yet none could match the dramatic transformation of Folkestone on Kent’s south coast.

Just ten years ago, Folkestone was on the slide. ‘I moved here in 2015 from Gran Canaria to work in a hotel and parts of the town, notably the harbour area, were scary — so I moved on to Canterbury,’ says Alex Rodriguez, 31, now a freelancer working in corporate communications.

Turning the tide: The Kent seaside town’s once off-limits harbour is now an enticing location

Turning the tide: The Kent seaside town’s once off-limits harbour is now an enticing location

‘Then I heard about the changes going on, so in 2020 I moved back here with my husband and picked up a three-bedroom Victorian end-terrace house for £240,000. 

I have never regretted it — Folkestone nowadays has a really cool vibe and beautiful scenery.’

It is difficult to imagine the Folkestone that Alex found back in 2015. Much of the harbour and seafront was occupied by railway sidings, a squalid fairground and a flea market. The Old Town area was, to put it bluntly, a slum.

It took the ambition of Sir Roger De Haan to create the Folkestone of today. He bought the town’s harbour in 2004 with a view to regenerating it.

‘My parents started [travel company] Saga and when I sold the company in 2004 [for £1.35 billion] I was still only in my late 50s and I needed to carry on working,’ Sir Roger told me. ‘I decided on four strands of regeneration: education, buildings, the arts and sport.’

These areas were in desperate need of attention. Folkestone had one of the five least academically successful secondary schools in England. 

With an investment of £34 million, Sir Roger had architect Norman Foster design a replacement and it is now judged ‘good’ by Ofsted. 

Sir Roger also helped set up performance venues and ploughed money into a variety of sports facilities.

But the flagship of the new-look Folkestone is a development of 84 apartments on the sea-front. Set on shingle at the top of the beach, it is built of glistening white, glazed bricks. 

Broad balconies give the exterior a Gaudi-esque look, while inside the curvature of the tall windows means rooms are bathed in light. Materials of wood and pebble echo the seaside theme.

Prices range from £430,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £2.2 million for a penthouse. Six more blocks are planned, totalling 1,000 units (shorelinefolkestone.co.uk).

Nearby is the restored Harbour Arm, with its champagne bar, food stalls. Stroll south along the seafront and you pass brightly painted beach huts and a landscaped coastal path.

The revamped Old High Street is now bursting with independent shops and studios — not unlike popular and chi-chi Whitstable on the north Kent coast.

‘It has a really cosmopolitan atmosphere,’ says Alex. ‘There are lots of freelancers and we meet in a coffee shop twice a week, which gives a real sense of community.’

There’s a lot to attract newcomers, with London’s St Pancras just an hour away. So, with so many seaside towns looking to re-invent themselves, what’s the secret of a successful regeneration?

‘In areas where the economy is broken, it is not enough to just fix the buildings,’ said Sir Roger. ‘You have to give the town a whole new economic purpose … there must be one over-arching grand ambition.’

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Majority of Businesses (82%) Set to Boost R&D Funding in the Next Three Years

Businesses And R&D Funding

More than 78% of R&D professionals believe that an enhanced 50% R&D tax credit will incentivise green tech development

A recent report by the Industry Research and Development Group (IRDG) and KPMG sheds light on the state of Research and Development (R&D), highlighting the urgent need for increased funding to keep pace with other leading innovation-driven nations. Titled ‘Ireland’s Innovation Index,’ the report presents insights gathered from a survey of 394 respondents representing various sectors, including engineering, technology, medical, and software.

Growing Ambitions for R&D Investment

The findings of the report reveal that a significant majority (80%) of respondents plan to boost their R&D expenditure in the next three years, while 67% have already increased their R&D budgets over the past three years. Encouragingly, only a mere 4% anticipate a decrease in future R&D spending. This heightened commitment to R&D investment underscores its critical role in driving economic growth and competitiveness.

R&D Landscape

Ireland has demonstrated commendable performance in the realm of R&D, with a substantial proportion (69%) of multinational companies considering Irish R&D grants and tax supports on par with or even superior to those offered by other countries. Only 31% expressed a less favorable opinion. Moreover, 64% of the survey respondents have taken advantage of the Research and Development Tax Credit (RDTC), while 53% have availed themselves of semi-state grant supports. These figures indicate the value that companies place on government incentives to support their innovation endeavors.

The Need for Increased Funding

Despite the positive strides made, the report highlights the pressing need for Ireland to bolster its R&D funding to match the levels seen in leading innovation-driven nations. According to the IRDG, an additional €2 billion in funding is required to bridge this gap effectively.

Embracing Sustainability and Digitalization

The report also emphasizes the potential of enhanced R&D funding in promoting green tech development. An overwhelming 78% of R&D professionals believe that an improved 50% R&D tax credit would serve as a powerful incentive to drive innovation in sustainable technologies. This highlights the need to align R&D investment with the challenges of sustainability and digitalization, ensuring continued economic prosperity and positioning Ireland as a global leader in these areas.

The Importance of Support for SMEs and FDI

Dermot Casey, CEO at IRDG, underscores the significance of increased investment in innovation, particularly in supporting innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to create the next generation of Irish success stories, akin to industry leaders like Kingspan and Fexco. Additionally, such investment is crucial to bolster the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sector. Businesses are poised to invest, but they require robust support to overcome challenges related to accessing skills, talent, and administrative burdens.

Competition in the Global Landscape

Ken Hardy, head of KPMG’s R&D incentives practice, draws attention to the intense competition among European jurisdictions, including neighboring countries like the UK, which are actively vying to attract R&D activities. In light of this landscape, Ireland must fortify its support systems and allocate a more substantial budget to maintain its competitiveness. Hardy commends the positive sentiment among over two-thirds of Irish RD&I professionals who view Ireland’s support systems as comparable to those of other countries.

Charting the Path Forward

The report underscores the urgent need for Ireland to bolster its investment in R&D, both to stimulate innovation and to address the challenges presented by sustainability and digitalization.

By increasing funding and providing comprehensive support to innovative companies, Ireland can seize opportunities for economic growth and maintain its position as a global hub for research and development. The collective efforts of industry, government, and academia will be instrumental in driving Ireland’s innovation agenda and securing a prosperous future.


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Ways Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Can Hire Big Tech Talent

In response to mounting financial concerns, tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have recently implemented significant staff cuts. This has prompted industry leaders to reevaluate their hiring practices, recognizing the limitations of Big Tech’s ability to weather challenging economic times.

While the tech industry’s overall stability is assured, the combination of a declining economy and a previous surge in hiring has resulted in substantial job losses. However, this situation also presents an opportunity for small businesses and start-ups to tap into a pool of available tech experts.

To capitalize on this unique scenario, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners must act swiftly to gain a competitive advantage over larger companies and attract highly skilled candidates.

In this article, John Elf, Technology Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’ and Head of Marketing at Vibertron Technologies, provides insights into some simple but effective strategies for attracting talent in a candidate-heavy market.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can leverage consulting services to attract the best talent, just like big tech companies do. Here’s how SMBs can make use of consulting services to enhance their talent acquisition efforts:

1. Talent Acquisition Strategy Development: SMBs can engage consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition and HR strategies to help them develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. These consultants can assess the organization’s needs, identify talent gaps, and devise effective recruitment and sourcing strategies tailored to the SMB’s specific industry and requirements. This strategic approach ensures that the SMB is targeting the right candidates and maximizing its resources.

2. Employer Branding and Positioning: Consulting firms experienced in employer branding can assist SMBs in developing a strong employer brand that resonates with their target talent pool. They can help SMBs articulate their unique value proposition, culture, and growth opportunities, ensuring that the organization stands out as an attractive employer. These consultants can also provide guidance on how to effectively communicate the employer brand across various channels to attract the best talent.

3. Recruitment Process Optimization: Recruitment service provider can help SMBs, same as LCEs, optimize their recruitment processes, making them more efficient and effective. Consultants can review and streamline the entire hiring process, from job postings and candidate screening to interview techniques and selection methodologies. By improving the candidate experience and ensuring a smooth and timely process, SMBs can enhance their reputation as an employer of choice.

4. Candidate Sourcing and Evaluation: Consulting firms specializing in talent acquisition can assist SMBs in sourcing and evaluating candidates. They can leverage their networks and resources to identify top talent and conduct thorough assessments, including skill evaluations, cultural fit analysis, and background checks. By leveraging external expertise, SMBs can access a broader candidate pool and make well-informed hiring decisions.

5. Compensation and Benefits Consulting: Attracting and retaining top talent often requires competitive compensation and benefits packages. SMBs can engage consulting firms that specialize in compensation and benefits to ensure their offerings align with industry standards and meet the expectations of high-caliber candidates. These consultants can provide insights into market trends, salary benchmarks, and innovative benefit options, enabling SMBs to remain competitive in talent acquisition.

6. Training and Development Programs: SMBs can leverage consulting services to design and implement training and development programs. These programs not only help attract talent but also contribute to employee retention and growth.

Consultants can identify skill gaps, design customized training modules, and provide guidance on employee development initiatives, ensuring that SMBs create a culture of continuous learning and professional advancement.

By utilizing consulting services in talent acquisition, SMBs can access specialized expertise, best practices, and industry insights that are typically associated with larger companies. This approach enables SMBs to compete for top talent on a more level playing field, enhancing their ability to attract and retain the best candidates.


By John Elf

John Elf is Head of Marketing at Vibertron Technologies, and an Honorary Contributor at ‘Voice of EU’. A version of this article has already been published.


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