Continuing education is an increasingly popular choice among many searching for extra credentials and direction in their careers.
“I think to stay competitive people want to upgrade their knowledge,” Christine Wilton, coordinator of professional, personal and corporate programs with Western’s continuing education, said.
Western’s continuing education offers two different streams of courses. One of them — personal, professional and corporate training — is for mature students and has seen a recent 13 per cent increase in enrollment.
The greatest increase has been in post-degree programs — programs for graduates who are looking for more practical experience or credentials. Registration This stream has seen a recent enrollment increase of 83 per cent. However as Wilton pointed out, many of these programs have small class sizes, so a small jump in enrollment would create a large increase.
“It’s hard to learn enough in 17 years [of school] to maintain a 40 year career,” Wilton said. “A lot of students in our professional program are having their companies pay for their education.”
Wilton mentioned students have different reasons for joining — from needing extra credentials to keeping their organization ahead.
“We chase credentials,” Ronald Hansen, a faculty of education professor, said. “The reality is, work experience is a much better teacher.”
“[Students in] personal, professional training are a broad mix of people who are changing careers or want to upgrade their current skills,” Wilton said. “I think [in the] post-graduate diploma program, it’s definitely students who have just graduated university.”
According to Wilton, students who enroll in post-degree programs are often looking for a beneficial credential or sometimes searching for a career path. “This way they get practical experience along with an education,” she explained.
Wilton also added both programs allow for a networking element in class, because they put many people in the same situation together.
“A credential gets your foot in the industry,” Hansen added. He also admitted the value of a credential varies by sector, depending on how clearly the skill content is defined.
“[Employers] want credentials,” Hansen said. “Second they ask: ‘Do you have the experience?’”
Wilton added that not many problems have arisen from the increase in enrollment. “Some classes have filled up, but we will offer the classes again in a different term,” she said.
“I don’t think you can do much with just a regular BA,” Jelena Vulic, a third-year English major, said. Vulic plans to pursue teachers’ college after acquiring her undergraduate degree.
“I’ll have to go [back to school] eventually,” she said. “I will have to update some English courses.”
However, Vulic admitted: “If I was going to do it, it would be about better pay.”
“I think in today’s workplace, you sort of have to do more to stand out and keep up.” Wilton said.