Lifelong learning has become a necessity for personal and professional success.

Rapid advances in technology and the global economy have changed the way we work and live. Keeping pace and remaining competitive requires continuous learning. For people balancing family, full-time employment, and other commitments, keeping up with these changes can be challenging.

Certificate programs offer a solution for people who wish to gain or enhance their skills in order to advance or change their careers, but who are limited in the time they have to devote to continuing their education.

Representatives at the University of New Brunswick’s College of Extended Learning (UNB CEL) are seeing an increased demand for professional development certificate programs.

“Our clients are looking for shorter, concentrated programs that focus on one area of specialization and provide recognized credentials,” said Lloyd Henderson, executive director of the college.

Certificate programs provide many benefits to the learner.

“Certificates require less time commitment and are less costly than a complete degree. Certifications are a confirmation of knowledge and show a fulfilment of required coursework and an achievement of standards,” said Mr. Henderson.

Earning a specialized certificate can improve job prospects and salary potential; participants stand out amongst their peers, which can lead to job security, promotions, and improved ability to compete in the global economy.

Dave Wilson, a graduate of the Human Resources Management (HRM) Certificate program offered through UNB CEL, can attest to that.

After four years working as a computer technician with School District 15, Mr. Wilson felt he needed more of a challenge in his work. He was always interested in human resources management, and knowing that there were opportunities in HR coming up due to retirements within the district, he decided to enroll in the HRM program.

Since participating in the program, Mr. Wilson has been promoted to Information Systems Manager with the district, and now manages eight computer technicians.

Wilson attributes getting the position because he had the certificate, but the real benefit was the practical knowledge he learned.

“I use the information and skills regularly in my day-to-day activities. I don’t know how many times I have looked at a textbook, looked back to my notes, or sent a text or an email to someone that I met in the course to ask a question pertaining to what we learned,” said Mr. Wilson.

UNB CEL offers a variety of specialized certificate programs for professionals as well as those who are looking to sharpen their management and leadership skills. Programs vary in format and length, some are offered completely online, while others are face-to-face, and many blend both formats.

A number of certificate programs earn the participant credit toward a degree (although in most cases participants do not have to be enrolled in a degree program) and several are not for credit.

Credit certificates are available in aviation and operations management, family violence issues, film production, business administration, software development, technology management and entrepreneurship, and adult education. An online certificate in leadership studies will be available in fall 2011, but students can get started right away, as courses are available this fall.

Non-credit professional development certificates offered include human resources management, lean six sigma, management development, business analysis, project management, health and safety, public service management, third party neutral, and unexploded ordnance technician training.

UNB CEL’s staff also provides contract-training options for organizations. Employers can choose from a wide selection of seminars that can be customized to a particular sector, or an entirely new program can be developed to meet specific organizational requirements.

“UNB CEL, working with partners such as faculty and industry experts, employers and professional organizations can customize programs to meet the special requirements of any company or industry sector,” said Mr. Henderson.

“Our professional staff is here to help any individual who wants to enhance his or her professional skills or expand horizons. We provide the resources and services to help an individual get started.”

For more information on courses and programs offered through UNB CEL, click here, call 506-453-4646, or toll free 1 866-599-4646.

The University of New Brunswick's College of Extended Learning has been providing quality-learning opportunities to adults since 1950. The department is an outward-looking, academic extension of UNB that exists to provide continuing education and professional development opportunities to individuals as well as private and public organizations, at the provincial, national, and global levels. Our services cover the whole gamut, from analysis and planning, to design and development, on to delivery and administration of courses and programs for leisure, training, and higher education purposes.

Graduate success story: Dave Wilson, graduate of the Human Resources Management Certificate Program through UNB’s College of Extended Learning, was recently promoted to Information Systems Manager for the IT Division at School District 15. He says he attributes getting the promotion to having the completed the certificate.