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Rod Lastra, Acting Dean, Extended Education

Helping you to adapt and succeed in a post-pandemic world

UM Extended Education

August 11, 2022 — 

At University of Manitoba Extended Education, continuing education is what we do. In the late 1940s, we were here to help people move forward in their lives and in their careers after the Second World War, and today we are here to help you adapt and succeed in a post-pandemic world.

Extended Education continues to do what we always have done, provide short credentials in partnerships and in consultation with industry. But soon we will also do so with micro-credentials and other short programs designed to meet immediate industry needs and digitally document skills and competencies learned.

New programs
In 2022, Extended Education launched the Building Information Modeling (BIM) certificate program for those in architecture, engineering, construction and other related disciplines to gain important knowledge about this intelligent 3D modeling process.

In 2023, we will launch our first micro-certificate. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) micro-certificate is for professionals to learn to leverage AI in order to devise and implement technological solutions for their business or organization.

In the future, in addition to our variety of programs and courses, there will also be micro-credentials complete with what makes them unique — the digital documenting of skills and competencies learned.

“They are coming,” says Rod Lastra, Acting Dean, UM Extended Education. “There is growing consensus that micro-credentials are short programs with a more focused subset of skills/competencies learned. In addition, the value proposition of micro-credentials comes in the articulation, validation and recognition of the skills learners earn. They are valued and recognized by industry. These short credential programs are important. They help professionals to pivot particularly during times of disruption. But they are not going to replace undergraduate degrees. They can be added on, to building on the foundational skills people already have. They are part of the larger education learning web.”

Micro-credentials are the future of post-secondary continuing education, says Lastra, noting the emergence of micro-credentials was driven by a need to address the skills gap mostly created by the digital automation revolution or Industry 4.0 over the past five years.

“The pandemic didn’t create this gap but it is driving the rate of change,” says Lastra. “Canadian companies are increasingly adopting a dispersed workforce model. We have gone from a local to a more competitive global work environment.”

As a result, there is an imminent need for professionals to upskill and reskill. To upskill, you may simply need to up your game by adding a course or two to your current education and experience like a specialization or more specific training. To reskill, you will require the ability to rethink or shift your skill set to something different but not completely different like perhaps a new sector.

Upskilling and reskilling in a global work environment
“To remain viable, professionals are facing this new reality. They must upskill or reskill and micro-credentials play a role to address this immediate need. It’s really important to be able to shift your skill set to something different but not completely different,” says Lastra.

That’s where Extended Education comes in.

“Over the next couple of years, we will be looking at things from a more national and international perspective. Skills and competencies will need to have a greater currency at a national and perhaps international level. We plan to develop programs to meet this dual reality.”

While the students of the 1970s and 1980s often completed a college or university credential and then had a job for life, the new reality is that professionals will have a need to keep learning. Their education will be a lifelong journey and Extended Education is here to provide that continuing education.

“Come to us. We have the expertise. We have been doing this for well over 70 years. We have a long track record. We are focused on upskilling and reskilling. We are recognizing local needs and translating them into national currency for lifelong learners.”

We are planning to do more, says Lastra.

“We are certainly open for business. We have been meeting with university and industry, and we continue to do this. Our work is not stand-alone. We need a strong arm in both areas.”

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press

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