5 Trends in Continuing Education for 2015

Dr. Marie Bountrogianni

A recent survey from the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counseling (CERIC) found that while 71% of employers agree they have a responsibility to provide career management programs for their employees, only 29% actually offer them. There is a huge gap in the skills training that workers need to move up the ladder and the training they are actually being given by employers.

Continuing education institutions play a large role in filling this gap. At the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University in Toronto, we see professionals from all disciplines who are passionate about learning, and who are looking for the newest information or skill that will lead them to the next big break in their career. Schools offering continuing education must stay ahead of the curve to deliver education that is meaningful to employees, their employers, and the future of the workplace.
Here are what I believe to be the 5 hottest trends in continuing education in Canada in 2015.

1. Specialization vs. Generalization. There are 2 schools of thought about whether we should generalize to keep our skills transferable among industries, or specialize to make ourselves stand out. In fact, many of us need to be both generalists and specialists to remain marketable. When it comes to career development, continuing education helps individuals build on their existing knowledge to learn practical skills that will aid them in finding a new career or
advancing their current career.

2. Customized learning. Adult learners are holding fulltime
jobs while going back to school – not to mention maintaining other commitments like family and volunteering. Today’s working professionals need flexible options and are increasingly looking online to meet their learning needs. Online learning takes
proximity out of the equation, allowing working adults to choose a course or program that is best suited to their needs – whether it’s from an institution next door, across Canada, or even in a different country. More students will continue to move online for their training and development.

3. Intrapreneurship. The idea of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization is gaining ground. At businesses large and small, more hiring managers are looking for individuals who have an entrepreneurial mindset –or “intrapreneurs.” We need to teach students across all disciplines the creative,  self-motivated, and “gogetem”attitude and skills that make entrepreneurs successful, and show them how this mindset will help them get ahead in the corporate environment.

4. Skills mismatch. The shortage of skilled workers is one of the biggest issues we are facing in Canada. A Conference Board of Canada report indicates that as much as $24.3 billion in economic activity is lost annually because employers cannot find people with the right skills to innovate and grow in today’s economy. There need to be better linkages between employers and postsecondary institutions, and among postsecondary
institutions, to ensure that we’re preparing students for today’s jobs and the future.

5. New and emerging careers. Many of today’s fastest growing employment areas didn’t exist 5 to 10 years ago. Take, for example, disaster and emergency management. A field that was barely on the radar a few years ago, disaster and emergency management is now a thriving career opportunity. The Chang School’s Certificate in Disaster and Emergency Management was developed based on the
need for trained professionals who are equipped to deal with the increasing number of emergencies associated with climate change.

Another area that is impacting businesses of all sectors and sizes is big data. We have more information available to us than ever before, and organizations are realizing it is not enough to have just a handful of experts to interpret data. Every function and department needs employees who can understand and act upon the information that is now available. Programs such as the Chang School’s Certificate
in Data Analytics, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics is very popular as companies are looking for skilled employees who can manage and interpret large data sets to help make better business decisions.

Trends in continuing education must echo the needs of the Canadian workforce. By delivering strong professional development to working Canadians, we can ensure our skills are best matched for the jobs available.

Marie Bountrogianni
Dr. Marie Bountrogianni is the Dean of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. For more information, visit http://www.ryerson.ca/ce or
follow @marieatryerson on Twitter.

Reproduced with permission from Workplace Today® Inc. (www.workplace.ca) ©2016 All rights reserved.

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