What is a virtual assistant?

If when you hear about “virtual assistants”, you think about digital virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, it might be a good idea to learn more about this new career!

A virtual assistant (VA) is a person who provides support services to a business from a remote location.

The term “virtual assistant” was coined in the early 1990s when businesses started to use technology to allow employees to work from home. The internet made it possible for people to work from their homes and still communicate with their offices.

VAs provide administrative, creative, or technical support services to other business owners. Thanks to technological advancements, they can do almost any task that another support staff performs. For example, they cannot bring coffee in the morning but they can place an order to a food delivery service for their client.

It started with clerical and administrative work, but nowadays VAs can specialize in a specific skill set whether creative or technical. They can also focus on a variety of industries, including law, real estate, and information technology.

Within these industries, they can perform non-technical tasks such as administrative assistance, copywriting, community management, event management (physical and online), customer support, etc.

But they can also specialize in more technical tasks such as graphic design, video or audio editing, web design and management, advanced digital content (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, interactive and 360 videos, augmented printing, eBooks, chatbots).

Most VAs work as contractors, whether they run their own home-based virtual assistant business or work for a service company and jump from one  contract to another.

This variety of skills and organization makes becoming a VA available for anyone!

Moreover, freelancing is not a marginal activity, and it becomes more and more attractive for businesses looking for extra people with specific skillsets.

In 2018 in Europe, there were about 11 million EU freelancers. This is in part why the European Commission has started advocating for the revision of the 2003 SME Definition since 2015 to acknowledge freelancers as a stand-alone category within the definition, who increased by 45% since 2000.


In The Virtual Assistant’s MOOC,  we intend to create a MOOC for VET learners and entrepreneurs on how to work as a virtual assistant, considering the skills and knowledge to develop as well as the entrepreneurship skills specific to such jobs

This course will be free and focused on the needs of the EU market. It will offer training for most of the useful technologies and tools as well as describe  the less common ones or rising trends to encourage learners to keep an eye on and favor continuous development.

It will also help redirect more advanced learners to other quality and free resources, for instance from other European projects, to provide an opportunity for progress after the course.



Duermyer, R. (2021, January 21). What is a virtual assistant?. thebalancesmb.com Retrieved from  https://www.thebalancesmb.com/virtual-assistant-1794441.

Reetesh. (2021, September 30). What Industry has the Greatest Need for Virtual Assistants?. fusionfirst.com Retrieved from https://www.fusionfirst.com/what-industry-has-the-greatest-need-for-virtual-assistants/.



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The #VAmoocEU project is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ programme of the European Union, and will be implemented from November 2021 to October 2023. This website and the project content reflects the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 
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