The Ontario government recently announced a redesign of its Second Career program and a new micro-credential strategy.
The province is investing $59.5 million to support the new strategy to help workers who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment will help to create an online portal to access the courses and expand the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) eligibility to include students enrolled in certain micro-credential programs.
The Second Career program is being redesigned to support those workers by making it easier to upskill.
Humber is already focused on the needs of those workers the government is seeking to support by addressing the workforce challenges of the last year head-on.
“Our goal has always been to prepare learners for career success, whether they are looking to upskill and enhance their current credentials, or just beginning their educational journey,” said Senior Vice President, Academic Laurie Rancourt.
“We strive for excellence in polytechnic education, which means finding new opportunities for hands-on, work-integrated learning for students, even with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. That philosophy extends to our corporate training and micro-credential offerings, which aim to quickly prepare professionals for career success.”
Humber’s approach to learning and closing industry skill gaps is in line with the provincial government’s plans.
"Our government is committed to ensuring today’s students can meet the demands of tomorrow’s jobs,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "I applaud post-secondary institutions like Humber who are not only preparing current students, but helping workers ‘retool’ on the fly as well.”
The college is supporting current and future learners with a growing number of rapid skilling and training options.
Humber’s Corporate Training Solutions (CTS) department, for example, began modifying its programs for virtual learning even before the pandemic necessitated online training.
“We had an idea that we would need to start doing more virtual sessions, so we retrained our facilitators in virtual instructor-led training” said Nadia Desjardins, associate dean of CTS.
“When COVID hit, we were able to reach out to them and they converted all their face-to-face courses quickly.”
Desjardins and her team noticed an urgent demand for this kind of accessible training, which is cost-effective and can be completed quickly.
"There is a huge trend towards doing short snippets of learning. We provide upskilling in targeted areas. In many cases, you don’t need a six-week course,” she said.
The value of micro-credentials
People who are interested in gaining rapid skills in a particular sector now have the option to take courses or in some cases, complete a micro-credential.
Micro-credentials certify a learner’s achievement of a specific skill or competency. They are different from traditional education credentials, such as degrees and diplomas, in that they are shorter, and provide distinctive value and relevance in the changing world of work.
Successful completion of a micro-credential is signified by an electronic badge that can be added to resumes and LinkedIn profiles or submitted to Human Resources to keep track of the skills gained for promotion purposes.
The Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) course Desjardins and her team used to re-train facilitators is one example of a popular micro-credential at Humber.
Private organizations outside of Humber and Corporate Training services have also used the course to prepare their employees to teach classes online and convert courses for virtual delivery.
To earn the micro-credential, participants in the course must show the facilitators that they are able to convert and teach courses by presenting their courses to the class during the training session.
Training the community
Humber is also launching a Digital Fluency Micro-Credential Series, funded by Future Skills Canada. The project brings together industry employers and the community to help upskill the workforce in the Greater Toronto Area.
It will develop three stackable micro-credentials for those who need to upgrade their skills, re-learn skills or need a way to demonstrate their digital fluency for employment.
Digital fluency is a core employability along with other skills like leadership, critical thinking and communication, which are highlighted in Humber’s Learning Outcomes (HLO) framework as HLO skills in action. Humber is developing micro-credentials focusing on these skills
Five new graduate certificates
In addition to short-term, targeted courses, Humber is continually working to provide longer-term credentials like certificates, diplomas and degrees.
Humber offers more than 50 graduate certificates, which are completed over two to three semesters. They include work placement opportunities, just like diplomas and degrees.
The programs and courses are designed to equip college and university graduates with a specific set of skills while working on projects in the sector, often with industry employers. Faculty members are often experienced and highly regarded in their fields and able to lend practical knowledge and context.
The college’s Program Planning, Development and Renewal department has helped develop six new programs designed to respond to workforce needs and close the skills gap.
The programs include five Ontario Graduate Certificates:
- Business Insights and Analytics, which launched this semester
- Health Sector Regulatory Compliance, to launch Winter 2021
- Cloud Computing, to launch Winter 2021
- Advertising – Art Direction, to launch Fall 2021
- Retirement Home Management, to launch Fall 2021
As the workforce changes and evolves, so do the college’s courses and delivery methods.
Most programs have shifted to online and virtual learning due to the pandemic and for the rest, Humber has found a way to combine online instruction with limited in-class components.
You can find a list of Humber’s diploma, degree and certificate programs here.