Individuals today may pursue multiple careers and interests throughout their lives, and there are dynamic programs in place to support them in all of the twists and turns they may encounter. With the appropriate training and ongoing skill development, these changes can be enriching, empowering, and fulfilling.

Of course, so much can be learned on the job, but sometimes a more formal setting is what is required to upgrade specific skills or to fill a gap in knowledge. Continuing studies aims to offer programs that are ahead of the curve to provide learners with the skills they need to contribute to their organizations in innovative and meaningful ways.  “Continuing studies really provide an avenue for people to challenge themselves, advance their careers, and explore new careers,” says Dr. Maureen MacDonald, Dean of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies (SCS), “but it’s not just careers that matter— continuing education provides ample opportunities for individuals to enrich their lives as well”.

A commitment to continuous learning has significant benefits, from career satisfaction to developing and nurturing a growth mindset. Although SCS courses are open to all and do not require an application, many of the learners at SCS enrol after having completed an undergraduate or graduate degree. Often these learners are interested in upskilling, gaining practical expertise, or changing direction. Given the diverse motivations for pursuing continuing studies, SCS classes typically include a wide range of individuals with varied backgrounds and expertise. Courses are taught by passionate industry leaders who are actively working in their respective fields. The combination of diverse students and expert instructors establishes an ideal setting for developing professional connections and lasting professional networks.

While some individuals may take courses to network, the real reason continuing studies are impactful for so many is the integration of real world problems and work-based projects within the curriculum. SCS instructors encourage experimentation and creativity, allowing learners the space to think and explore while developing new skills and competencies. The term “experiential learning” is not just reserved for children— continuing studies provide true experiential learning, in an inspiring, networked, and supportive environment. There are many reasons individuals may choose to pursue continuing studies—from career advancement to career transition, gaining a Canadian credential to personal enrichment and exploration. With more than 100 certificates and over 685 courses to choose from, it it's not hard to grasp how SCS manages to attract nearly 30,000 enrolments a year to in-class, hybrid, and online courses. The programs offered at SCS are consistently updated and changing, according to what learners— and industry— are seeking, and SCS is exploring new ways to make continuing studies accessible and relevant to a range of audiences. Examples of this responsiveness include the Summer Professional Edge Program and the Coding Boot Camp.

The NEW Summer Professional Edge program

In addition to mid-career professionals, SCS attracts many recent graduates who are interested in developing specific applied skills before or while embarking on their careers. SCS noticed this trend, dug into the data, and determined that an accelerated certificate program that combined core curriculum, business communication skills, and career preparation workshops would be the ideal solution. This allows students to forego another full year of part-time learning (the typical timeline for a three-course certificate) and to get a head start on their job search.

The resulting program, Summer Professional Edge, launches in May 2018 and features three accelerated certificates: Project Management Essentials, Business Essentials and Digital Strategy, and Communication Essentials. The skills developed in this program will support young professionals to excel in a range of industries by preparing them for the demands of full-time work through collaborative, project-based, experiential learning.

The U of T SCS Coding Boot Camp

The trend toward automation is well-documented and is causing trepidation among a range of workers—  many of whom are taking their careers into their own hands by learning new, in-demand web development skills.  SCS is keen to play a role in ensuring that individuals are well-prepared for the changes ahead by working with Trilogy Education Services, a leading technology curriculum partner, to develop the U of T SCS Coding Boot Camp. The Coding Boot Camp will help learners develop the skills and professional network needed to capitalize on the demand for 182,000 ICT workers in Canada by 2019.1 The program includes a rigorous admissions process, a current and geo-specific full stack coding curriculum, expert instruction, intensive career services, and direct contact with employers who are actively seeking talent. Learners will also receive support in building a comprehensive professional portfolio to display their work. Programs launch in March 2018 and will be offered on-site at University of Toronto's St-George campus and University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), and live online.

A program for everyone

No matter your career interests or life stage, there is likely a continuing studies course or certificate program that will inspire, engage, and help to breathe new life and new ideas into your day-to-day by supporting you in achieving your goals. Navigate the twists and turns by staying current and committing to your own growth— who knows, by attending classes you may even develop a great network of professionals and friends who will encourage you along the way!