The flexibility of continued education programs is not just limited to your ability to study part-time, online, evenings or weekends.
Schools also have a lot more flexibility in what they can offer, especially in how quickly they can react and respond to industry trends and projections.
Sheridan’s Data Science certificate is a perfect example. When Sheridan officials noticed companies investing heavily in analytics and making more data-driven decisions, it took less than six months to create a program in response. Within two years of the Data Science certificate’s launch in 2017, it’s already become one of Sheridan’s five most popular Continuing Education programs.
“It used to be that statisticians and computer scientists were separate entities, but data science has brought these two worlds together to provide career-advancing opportunities,” says Marcela Velez-Pulgarin, Associate Director of Sheridan’s Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS). “That’s the main thing about continued education, the ability to have a quick turnaround when we see an opportunity. I’ve never seen a CAPS program grow as quickly as this one.”
Part of the explanation for the program’s rapid popularity is because Sheridan was ahead of the curve, remaining the only college in the Greater Toronto Area to offer a Data Science certificate. Monitoring industry trends and job postings helped the College identify the growing demand for skilled professionals who can gather and analyze small to large amounts of data, but having instructors who also work in the field was especially valuable.
“It’s never been easier to get a large volume of data, but never harder to have people who can give meaning to data and transfer data from information to business knowledge,” says Sheridan Data Science instructor Simon Sun, who also works as a senior manager for CIBC. “Our Data Science certificate really helps to minimize the structural gap between industrial demand and academic preparation, in terms of both theoretical statistical modeling knowledge and hands-on experience of the most popular big data tools.”
In addition to courses about advanced statistics, analytics, big data, modeling, business problem analysis and data exploration, the Data Science certificate also allows students to do an applied project — something Sheridan is looking to offer in as many CAPS programs as possible. “Although we don’t have internships or co-ops, we’re starting to embed applied learning, whether it’s partnering with organizations or asking students to bring in their own real-life cases,” Velez-Pulgarin says. “The goal is to have you take what we taught you and build something together with us, receiving advice from people who are already experts in the industry.”
The Data Science certificate is just one example of how Sheridan’s Continuing & Professional Studies programming continually evolves to meet industry needs. The College also launched a Digital Marketing certificate earlier this year, and Sheridan is currently evaluating the demand for courses about blockchain.
For more information about all of Sheridan’s Continuing & Professional Studies programs, visit caps.sheridancollege.ca.