Going Back to School for Fun and Profit

| 17 Feb 2015 | 04:28

City's continuing ed programs respond to the changing job market By Laura Shin Bob Makarowski has been teaching at Baruch College's Division of Continuing and Professional Studies for more than 20 years. In the course of those two decades, Makarowski says he has witnessed a noticeable shift in the role these programs play in students' lives-a shift toward the practical. "There's a lot less interest in the courses that are more entertainment-oriented, more fun," he said in a recent interview. "We still have fitness and swimming courses, but most people come into class not because they have intellectual interest, but because they have a financial demand." New York City's economy has made a robust comeback since the 2008 recession, recovering all the jobs it lost during that time, plus more. But in order for the city's residents to take advantage of new opportunities and stay competitive in the eyes of employers, many adults have had to learn new skills. They have turned to the city's continuing and adult education programs to fulfill that need. "Individuals are seeking certifications and taking classes to strengthen their resumes," said Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. "It also makes a difference on the job as companies measure employee qualifications, commitment and value. Continuing education demonstrates a desire to remain current and to contribute in a meaningful way." For some schools, the sudden influx of students seeking to improve their skills has provided an opportunity to grow their continuing education departments. Cathy Pagano, director of Continuing and Professional Education at Pace University, said her department took off in a new direction and has been going strong since 2008 precisely when a large number of displaced, underemployed or just plain worried workers suddenly became interested in going back to school to enhance their skills. "[The students] are busy people, and if they're going to put their time and money toward something, they want a reward in terms of career advancement or a new job," Pagano said. "And that's how Pace has positioned itself with its continuing education program." There are many continuing and adult education programs in Manhattan, and nearly all of them have added programs or courses to accommodate the new needs of the city's adults. Here is some more information on a few of them. Continuing Education at Hunter College 695 Park Ave. www.hunter.cuny.edu/ce Though the Continuing Education division at Hunter College offers numerous personal enrichment courses, such as those offered by its Italian school Parliamo Italiano, the school has added numerous certificate programs due to an increased demand from students. New programs include the Finance and Accounting Certificate, designed for students who may want to pursue a job at a financial institution, government or nonprofit institution. Another example is the Legal Secretary Certificate, created for both beginning secretaries as well as experienced secretaries who want to improve their skills. The number of certificate programs has doubled from 10 to approximately 20 in the last few years, said Christy Moorman, deputy director of Continuing Education and Special Programs at Hunter. Baruch College ? Continuing and Professional Studies William & Anita Newman Vertical Campus 55 Lexington Ave. www.baruched.com At Baruch College's division of Continuing and Professional Studies, more students are seeking courses to obtain advanced level skills in computer programs such as Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint, said Bob Makarowski, technology instructor. "We take care of adults who need to quickly become workforce-ready," he said. "What we've seen now is when you're hired, you're expected to know these programs." In response to this new trend, the school has allowed for more "custom-designed" curricula, Makarowski said, allowing businesses, organizations and even government agencies to come in to take courses and request what topics they want covered in those courses. Other popular courses include Flash programming, Photoshop, project management and Quickbooks, an accounting and payroll software suitable for small to medium businesses, he said. Pace University-Continuing & Professional Education One Pace Plaza www.pace.edu/continuing-professional-education One of the most successful new programs at Pace University's Continuing and Professional Education department has been the Paralegal Certificate Program, said director Cathy Pagano. It is a five- to six-month program that provides hands-on training in addition to education, she said. Students put together a portfolio while they are in school, and they are also assisted with finding a job once they complete the program. Another popular program is the Human Resources Management Certificate program. Though the program has been around for several years, Pagano said many new classes have been added as human resource jobs have evolved in recent years. "Human resources people are becoming revenue producers, so they're working hand-in-hand with management now," she said. Columbia University- School of Continuing Education 203 Lewisohn Hall 2970 Broadway www.ce.columbia.edu There are three new areas where certificates are being offered at Columbia University's School of Continuing Education. They are Business, Sustainability (certificates in Sustainability Analytics and Sustainable Water Management) and Bioethics. These offerings were added in response to a growth in opportunities and global trends, explained George Calderaro, executive director of public, corporate and media relations at the School of Continuing Education. "They all reflect developments in society and career opportunities globally," he said. "With businesses coming out of the economic crisis, people who have business experience need to re-tool, and we also find a number of students coming from a liberal arts background who need a business edge." Sustainability is a growing area of interest and opportunity, particularly in the wake of events such as Hurricane Sandy and increased awareness of the environment. Columbia already offers a master's program in bioethics, which looks at the ethical implications of advances in biology, biotechnology and biomedicine, but the program has now been expanded and will offer a certificate option in the fall. Unlike most continuing education schools, Columbia's School of Continuing Education requires students to apply and be admitted to the programs. NYU School of Continuing Education and Professional Studies 7 E. 12th St. www.nyu.edu/academics/continuing-education As New Yorkers seek out ways to be more competitive in the job market, NYU's School of Continuing Education and Professional Studies is offering some new unique programs. One is the Certificate in Creative and Critical Thinking with courses designed to challenge students to think in new ways, equipping them with tools to help them be more effective in the workplace. "In a time where innovation is ever more necessary, competition is ever more fierce and product development is accelerated, the ability to generate ideas seems to be more and more important," said Robert DiYanni, director of the program. Other new offerings at NYU's SCPS include three real estate certificates-Real Estate Development, Real Estate Finance and Investment and Construction Project Management. The school has also added a "Mandarin for Real Estate Professionals" course, which teaches "basic language skills as well as cultural elements to aid real estate professionals in dealing with Mandarin speakers effectively and appropriately," said Syd Steinhardt, senior director of public relations for the school. Nyack College ? Division of Adult Education 361 Broadway www.nyack.edu/content/DAEExplore At Nyack College's Division of Adult Education, changes in the job market have inspired administrators to reformat one of their main programs-the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management program. Students are enrolled for 12 months and participate in an applied research project, where they look at an organization in their lives, whether it is where they work or a community group they are a part of, and they identify a problem and learn effective ways to resolve that problem. "Employers want employees to bring about positive change to help the company become more efficient," said Julie Hood, academic department chair of Organizational Management. Nyack also offers a wide array of non-degree courses known as "Adult Intensive Tracks," Hood said. According to her, enrollment in these courses has skyrocketed in recent years.