Denise Logan, department head for Professional and Personal Development at the University of Georgia’s Center for Continuing Education, says the trend is that “continuing education is all work-focused. It’s about getting an education that will lead to immediate employment and a portable career so that if an individual has to relocate, he or she can still find work. Our programs are aimed at niche markets that will offer these employment opportunities. We also work with a lot of displaced people who are interested in starting their own businesses and becoming entrepreneurs.”
Lissa Versteegh, president of Sandler Training and Georgia Sales Development has noticed another interesting trend. “In the course of our economic slowdown, companies have scaled back and are doing more with less,” she said. “We’re seeing that employees need to be equipped with more skills in order to not only keep their jobs, but to be able to handle the extra responsibilities they’re getting.”
In addition, she is seeing that businesses are investing in their best sales people.
“We’re seeing that clients are starting to hire again, especially in sales, and the really good ones are now at risk for being hired away from other companies,” she said. “Employers want to give them extra skills, but also show them that they are investing in that person and their future with the company. It’s really a retention issue.”
So what are these courses that will promise employment? It turns out that there are many, and the key is to decide what you want and find the local institution that offers it.
“Gwinnett Tech is seeing ‘good demand’ for health sciences programs that will lead to certification in pharmacy, dialysis, EKG or phlebotomy and medical coding,” said McCulloch. They will be launching a patient care program in the North Fulton County soon. Also expect to see more classes in medical electronic formatting, he added.
Real estate is also gaining in enrollment as students are interested in earning building operators certification and other facility management courses as well as courses on helping buildings “go green.”
The University of Georgia is offering curricula that will lead to certification in several areas including: paralegal certification, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), project management, grant writing, real estate and HR management. In addition, the school, which has a campus in Lawrenceville, “looked at the demographics in Gwinnett County” and added a Korean to English medical interpretation program, Logan said. The school already offers a Spanish to English program not only for the medical, but the legal field as well. An online marketing research program is offered online with students from more than 60 countries taking advantage of it.
Also popular is the Advanced Placement Institute for Teachers where teachers study for 30 hours in the summer, which helps them be certified to teach advanced placement classes such as physics, Latin and comparative government, as well as obtain the professional credits necessary for keeping their teaching licenses.
Gainesville State College offers professional development and industry certification preparation for those seeking professional continuing education. According to Derek A. Powers, coordinator of marketing and design for Gainesville’s Division of Continuing Education and Public Services, the most popular professional continuing education classes are in healthcare, leadership and supervision, and human resources management.
Versteegh is noticing that businesses are intent on polishing their employees’ skills as the economy is picking up. “Businesses are recognizing that they need to keep their current customers and are spending a lot of time on customer service, so we are offering programs in customer service, sales training and prospecting. Businesses are realizing that they need to be more effective, not only in getting new business, but keeping the clients they have.”
Another outlet for budding entrepreneurs, especially, is the UGA Small Business Development Center. “We teach basic business classes such as QuickBooks and programs that help you analyze a market or write marketing plans,” Darrel Hulsey, business consultant. “There are a wide variety of classes geared not only to budding entrepreneurs, but small businesses owners who need to stay competitive by entering new markets, learning new marketing techniques, learning how to seek new capital, or becoming more efficient. We help them all enhance their skills to they can be more successful.”
The center’s services are free and include not only classes, but also one-on-one consulting.
“We are there to help,” Hulsey said.
In fact, local continuing education programs are indeed designed to help its students get a new job, keep a current one or veer off into a the challenging world of entrepreneurship.
Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta Continuing Education Providers
Continuing Education Center at Southern Polytechnic State University
Emory Continuing Education
Gainesville State College Continuing Education and Public Service
Georgia Small Business Development Center
Georgia Tech Professional Education
Gwinnett Technical College
Kennesaw State University College of Continuing and Professional Education
Sandler Training/GA Sales Development
Lissa C. Versteegh
Sandler Training/Simon Inc.
The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education
The University of Georgia: Gwinnett Campus
University of West Georgia Continuing Education