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Tracey Taylor-O'Reilly

Tracey Taylor-O’Reilly

Assistant Vice President, Continuing Studies at York University

As advances in technology proliferate and certain job functions are replaced by automation, you may think that learning new technical skills is the only way to effectively prepare for the changing professional landscape. But technical skills alone won’t be enough to compete in the future.


According to RBC’s “Humans Wanted” report, half of Canadian occupations will undergo a significant overhaul in terms of required skills in the coming decade and over a quarter will be heavily disrupted by technology.

Industries across Canada and the world are changing radically. To prepare for these workplace changes, you’ll need to learn a different skill set than what you may currently possess. Remaining adaptable is essential, and to do that, you’ll need to develop more than additional technical skills. You’ll need to develop your human skills. 

“While technical skills may get workers hired, it’s their human skills that will allow them to excel in the workplace,” says Tracey Taylor-O’Reilly, Assistant Vice President of Continuing Studies at York University. “Human skills like leadership, critical thinking, a growth mindset, and emotional intelligence will allow professionals to remain adaptable in an uncertain work environment and to perform job functions machines won’t be able to.” 

Innovative programs in emerging fields

So how do you hone your technical and human skills to be competitive in the future? 

University-level continuing education programs provide the answer. Since its creation five years ago, the York University School of Continuing Studies has been a leader in preparing students for the future of work. This fall, the school will be launching four innovative new programs in emerging technical fields, adding to their suite of 16 data and technology programs. The programs include a full-time Post-Graduate Certificate in Back-End and Blockchain Development and part-time certificates in Blockchain Development, People Analytics, and Information Privacy. In the case of blockchain development and people analytics, these programs will be the first university-level continuing education programs to be offered in Canada.

The programs are unique in that they allow students to gain specialized knowledge in emerging, in-demand fields, and a cross-functional human skill set. 

While technical skills may get workers hired, it’s their human skills that will allow them to excel in the workplace.

Continuing professional education for the 21st century

The York University School of Continuing Studies prepares its students for the future of work by helping them develop a robust T-shaped skill set. This means possessing a skill set that includes job-specific, technical, and cross-functional, human skills. 

“When we created the school, we reimagined what continuing professional education could look like,” says Taylor-O’Reilly. “We discarded outdated models and designed a bold, innovative, forward-focused model that’s student- and employer-centered.”

The key to this new model is integrating human skills into every program’s curriculum. Using a cohort format, students progress through a program with a set group of peers, allowing them to build relationships and practice these soft skills through deliberate practice in accelerated, intensive courses. 

A human skill set key to career success

It’s not enough to simply understand cryptography or data structures —
a blockchain developer needs to communicate how they can offer significant business value to an organization. 

A human resource professional specializing in people analytics needs to be a great storyteller as they craft their raw data into dynamic, convincing presentations that non-specialists can easily comprehend. 

Information privacy policies involve collaboration across multiple departments in an organization, making interpersonal and team-building skills essential for any information privacy professional. 

In rapidly-changing technical fields, possessing a strong human skill set is vital. If you’re looking to get into a technical role like blockchain, information privacy, or people analytics, York University’s School of Continuing Studies’ innovative certificate programs will help you future-proof your career.  

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