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cheryl farrow

Cheryl Farrow CAE, MBA


Looking to be a part of the digital economy? Add to your employability by joining your professional association.

In March 2020, the world as we knew it changed when the COVID-19 pandemic halted regular business operations and forced non-essential workers to work from home. The transformation of how we live, work and learn moved at breakneck speed into the digital realm. Although we were all part of the digital economy before the pandemic, albeit at a slower speed, the introduction of social distancing and stay-at-home regulations significantly increased the rate of digital adoption.

Like everywhere else, the pandemic has had a significant impact on Ontario’s economy and the job market. Many businesses and positions no longer exist, while others were able to retool and retain operations, and as an unexpected silver lining, new opportunities have been created. Now, in our more digitally-focused economy, many of these new opportunities exist in technology-based careers where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills and knowledge are fundamental. While having a post-secondary education in STEM is the foundation of your career and future, it’s essential to align yourself with your professional association whenever possible. Many professional associations like the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT) offer certification programs that augment your education.

Today’s job market, even if it’s digitally-driven, is still very competitive. Therefore, it’s necessary to consider other means of demonstrating employability and standing out from the crowd through things like professional designations, upskilling through certifications and micro-credentials, volunteer leadership, and creating business connections with your peers.

“By joining an association and getting certified, you show employers your willingness to go above and beyond the basic qualifications of the job. You demonstrate your passion and commitment to your profession, and employers see that translating into dedication to your role with them,” says Cheryl Farrow, CEO at OACETT.

Why pursue a professional certification?

Whether you were educated in Ontario or outside of the province, obtaining certification with the regulatory body representing your vocation demonstrates a mark of professionalism recognized by employers, governments, educational institutions, and the public. In addition, certification shows that you meet a high standard of academic excellence, are experienced in your field, and have demonstrated an understanding of ethics and your responsibility to your employer and the public. Many certifications, like OACETT’s, also require that members maintain their designations by meeting continuing professional development requirements.

As illustrated in the video, OACETT’s tagline “Our Certification, Your Success” demonstrates how certification drives professional excellence.

In addition to certification, many associations like OACETT provide services to help their members to upskill and grow professionally, from job boards and career services to networking and leadership opportunities, continuing professional development courses, and webinars. For example, Farrow says, “Key offerings for OACETT members that came out of the pandemic are our association-curated webinars and professional designation courses, which are complementary to our certification and accessible at deeply-discounted rates. As an association, our strategic mandate requires that we provide services that help our members grow along their career paths. By offering lifelong learning options in technical and soft skills, we help our members to remain relevant and current in our fast-paced world.”

OACETT is Ontario’s independent certifying body representing more than 25,000 engineering technology and applied science professionals. Since 1984, OACETT has certified members in 15 engineering technology and applied science disciplines, and confers the designations C.Tech. (Certified Technician) and C.E.T. (Certified Engineering Technologist), which are recognized across the province by employers and other engineering professionals.

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