According to Coco Hou, Australians who decide to study online during the COVID-19 pandemic will come out of it much better than those who don’t. She gives five reasons why we all need to look for online courses relevant to our respective fields.
Coco Hou is the managing director of Platinum Professional Training. Platinum is one of Australia’s largest accounting training and internship providers with offices across all major Australian cities. Hou is also a CPA qualified accountant and managing director of Platinum Accounting.
1. Self-education can be tax deductible
According to the ATO, expenses associated with self-education can be tax deductible provided the education is linked to your current employment and the education is likely to result in an increase to your income.
“Not many people know this but in some cases, self-education can be deducted against your taxable income. Based on the amount of Australians there are in education at the moment, there should be a lot more people taking advantage of this giveaway than there currently are,” Hou said.
“The government allows you to have all sorts of expenses deducted, from your textbooks to your tuition fees. There are some rules around what kinds of education are tax deductible but they’re not incredibly stringent.”
2. COVID-19 discounts won’t last forever
“Obviously not all education is free but there are a lot of institutions that have advertised free or reduced-cost courses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hou said.
TAFE NSW uploaded dozens of free short courses on their website early in the COVID-19 pandemic. There are courses covering excel spreadsheets, business administration and business leadership.
Platinum Professional Training is also offering reduced-cost courses in accounting. PPT is currently offering some of its courses 50 percent off.
“We want to encourage people in isolation to do something they wouldn’t normally do. People are hurting at the moment so it’s only right that we reduce our prices to account for people’s loss of income,” Hou said.
“There are a number of educational institutions that have done the same. There is a tremendous opportunity for Australians to learn a new skill at a reduced cost during this self-isolation period. These discounts won’t last forever so we should take advantage of them.”
3. You have free time, why not use it?
“For the people stuck at home, ask yourself: what’s the alternative? Whilst all the people you’re competing with in the job market will be watching Netflix, drinking and eating chocolate, you’ll be doing the hard yards learning a new skill. When self-isolation is over, you’ll be so far ahead of the pack,” Hou said.
“If you can aim to add one or two dot points to your resume over the next month, you won’t see self-isolation as such a waste of time. There’s nothing better than feeling you’ve used your time effectively. If you come out of self-isolation realising that you’ve achieved nothing for three months, you’re definitely going to regret not using your time more efficiently.”
4. Self-education is great for mental health
The Queensland government has recently given an extra $3.5 million to Lifeline following record demand for Lifeline services. In March, they received 90,000 calls alone — a record in their 57-year history.
“A lot of people’s mental health is struggling right now, and that’s clear in the record amount of people looking to Lifeline for help right now. Education isn’t going to cure your depression but it’s certainly going to keep you busy,” Hou said.
“Mental health experts always say that it’s important to have clear goals and targets. The last thing you should be doing is sitting around doing nothing with no direction or purpose. Education gives you something to strive toward and gives you a sense of accomplishment that can make you feel amazing.”
5. Employers will respect your initiative
According to Hou, employers will really respect candidates who use their self-isolation time to good use. If you can show employers that you take the initiative to learn new skills, you could really stand out in a job interview.
“Employers want to see that you care about your own education and self-development. If you can show that you used your time in self-isolation to learn something new, you’ll definitely stand out,” Hou said.
“As someone who helps people to ready themselves for the accounting sector with practical online courses and tutoring along with accounting workplace experience, I notice that students that invest more time in themselves gaining hands-on experience and industry knowledge are those who do well at job interviews, get job offers and advance through to promotions and higher pay faster. Learning is leading – leading yourself to bigger and better things. So take advantage of COVID-19 and study online.”