Dr. Sheila LeBlanc
Executive Committee Member, Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE)
Continuing education divisions at universities are key contributors to strategic workforce development across the country.
Continuing Education divisions and universities as a whole, have an opportunity to be strategic partners as it relates to both economic growth and diversification. A key way we do so is through workforce development. With the shortening half-life of new knowledge, it is more important than ever that continuing education divisions engage in building and offering leading edge short-cycle training to working and transitioning professionals.
Any new knowledge that is created in the university space, if translated effectively into a talented workforce, can act as a strategic differentiator and economic development lever for our communities. In other words, through ongoing short-cycle training we can mobilize knowledge to practice. As an example, in Alberta — and in particular, Calgary — to help lessen the province’s dependency on oil and gas and diversify the economy, the municipal, provincial and federal governments stepped in to support the development of a tech ecosystem that will enable us in the new economy.
In the new world of work, where technology affects everything we do, I believe Continuing Education divisions at universities across the country are well positioned to fulfill the workforce demands for short-cycle, competency-based skills programs to complement the knowledge gained in traditional degree programs.
Continuing Education programs are key contributors to economic growth and can be used as levers to support responsiveness and agility in workforce development. Especially in support of economic diversification strategies and to provide training for mid-career folks or workers displaced by technology, where re-skilling and up-skilling is required on an ongoing basis.