Bridging the skills gap
The numbers speak volumes. Since August 2011, more than 3,000 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have signed up for the 180 free workshops offered by Concordia’s Graduate and Professional Skills program (GradProSkills).
The program was developed by a working committee of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, in partnership with a steering committee of senior university administrators. The goal is to provide professional skills training to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to ease their transition from academic research and studies to the workplace.
As GradProSkills working committee coordinator Laurie Lamoureux Scholes explains, the program’s popularity proves it is filling a need. “Our workshops were filled almost to capacity by the middle of September,” she says. “There’s an interest and a demand, and we’re really excited to be able to offer this resource to grad students.”
Watch the video taken at the official launch of GradProSkills:
Testimonials from students confirm the program’s popularity: “GradProSkills gave me the access to knowledge that is going to be practical in terms of knowing the working environment, knowing how to handle professional relations, and knowing how to improve certain aspects that are not covered in a regular program,” says Edwin Ferrer, a student in the Graduate Certificate of Business Administration at the John Molson School of Business. He has taken GradProSkills workshops in public speaking and leadership.
Another student, Ashkan Rahemian, has taken more than 30 workshops through GradProSkills. “I know that technical skills are not enough for the workplace. There are a set of soft skills that are required, such as communication skills and presentation skills, and team-building,” he says. “An engineer should be able to co-operate, coordinate or collaborate with other peers, and those skills are in high demand in the job market.”
The GradProSkills team has recently added a host of online learning tools to its list of offerings, including webshops, webinars and articles. The resources are offered in partnership with on-campus and external providers.
Graham Carr, Dean of Graduate Studies and Interim Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, says the collaboration between the Faculties and departments has been exceptional.
“I’ve been at Concordia for a long while, and there aren’t very many projects where so many sectors of the university have come together in support of a core academic program like this,” he says.
• "New initiative supports graduate students” — NOW, August 23, 2011