UCLA Extension CEO Steve Poizner Wants to Fill the Skills Gap
Steve Poizner, CEO of Empowered UCLA Extension, has recognized that there is a skills gap between younger and older workers. We discussed with him going back to school, certificate programs, and the best way for adults to change their careers.
By Taylor Cotter | StudentAdvisor.com
How do you know if a certificate program is right for you?
You can use a variety of factors to determine if a certificate program is right for you. First, you need to find a program that is going to be appealing to your target employer. This may take some research to be sure your professional field will view a certificate program as a credible source of experience. In a recent study by Impulse Research Corp., 89 percent of U.S. hiring managers judged a certificate in a related field of study to be a credible source of related experience at least some of the time, indicating an increased acceptance of certificate programs as vehicles of job training.
At Empowered UCLA Extension, career
counselors work closely with
prospective students to help ensure a certificate is the right choice
for them. The career counseling program at Empowered UCLA Extension
begins with a career assessment, which helps Empowered UCLA Extension’s
program counselors determine whether an Empowered UCLA Extension
certificate is the right path for a student. The assessment allows
students to compare their skills, interests and experiences to one or
more of Empowered UCLA Extension’s ten fields of study and certificate
programs, and helps them understand their level of readiness to thrive
in an online learning environment. Ultimately, the assessment delivers
career insights that students can discuss with a program counselor to
assist them in making a decision.
Tell us about the skills
gap and potential opportunities for this demographic?
Tell us about the skills gap and potential opportunities for this demographic?
Empowered UCLA Extension addresses the growing needs of the seasoned workforce by teaching them new skills and providing necessary tools for today's job market. Program offerings were determined based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s projected job growth areas for the next ten years, so Empowered UCLA Extension is proactively providing skilled workers for those projected job openings.
Companies are looking for the expertise of experienced workers. There are opportunities, with additional training and counseling, for baby boomers to transition into such growing fields as education, health care, government and the nonprofit sector. These are career areas specifically suited for a seasoned professional compared to other fields and jobs better suited for college graduates and younger professionals.
Research shows baby boomers have been high consumers of education, and they place a high value on education. Unfortunately, while baby boomers are an educated and capable segment of the workforce, many may lack updated skills needed for today’s available jobs. By providing a convenient, mobile platform for learning these skill sets, Empowered UCLA Extension is giving boomers the tools to advance or change their careers while simultaneously providing skilled workers for available jobs.
What are the best ways to search and network for a new opportunity?
The best way to seek out new opportunities in a specific field of interest is to become a part of that community. You can attend conferences and other networking events, go on informational interviews, look for digital communities focused on that field and more.
At Empowered UCLA Extension, we give students a leg up on this imperative by helping them build their communities, both inside and outside of the Empowered UCLA Extension network, while they are participating in the certificate program. How should this mid-life learner adjust his/her personal branding online?
Personal branding is an incredibly valuable concept for career changers as they are in the midst of creating a brand new working identity.
Just like a company has a unique identity, you do to! At Empowered UCLA Extension, we help identify what is unique about each student and why that is important to his or her career. Our activities walk students through a clarification of their value, how others perceive their value, and how to translate their specific value into their own personal brand. Through Empowered UCLA Extension, students will have the language, tools and confidence to communicate their brands to the outside world.
When considering where and how to market yourself, you have numerous options available. For example, we believe a LinkedIn profile is essential in today’s job market. At Empowered UCLA Extension, we work with students to help them create a strong, effective LinkedIn presence.
How can this mid-life student stand out in a job interview and not seem “too old” for the position?
The best way for a mid-life student to stand out in a job interview is to demonstrate a recent commitment to refreshing one’s professional skills, and proficiency with modern technology.
What are your top three tips for adults who want to return to school?
#1: Higher education programs represent a significant investment for students, so we do not encourage education for education’s sake alone. Any adult looking to return to school should ensure he or she has a clear path in mind when he or she enrolls in a program so that the time and money spent effectively contributes to the student’s desired outcome.
#2: We also recommend that the student evaluate the field he or she is looking to enter to determine what kind of higher degree is going to be most compelling when applying for jobs – if a certificate program will be just as appealing to a hiring manager as a two- or four-year degree, that student may not need to put forth the money required for a more expensive program. In a recent study done by Impulse Research Corp, 84 percent of HR and hiring managers thought that obtaining a certificate in a related field of study is a good way for boomer-aged professionals to learn current job market skills, and 89 percent thought obtaining a certificate is a helpful step when looking to change careers, so a certificate may be all that is necessary.
#3: Finally, it is important that the combined lifestyle of student and working adult is going to be sustainable for the individual. Working a full-time job and participating in classes can be a rigorous and demanding time commitment, so a student must be prepared to plan for that kind of schedule. At Empowered UCLA Extension, we addressed this issue by choosing to offer our course content exclusively through our revolutionary iPad app so students can learn at home, during lunch breaks, on the bus, etc.
Can adults get college credit for work they’ve completed professionally or life experience? There is no college credit given for previous work experience. However, both life experience and professional experience can be a huge benefit to be succeeding in the certificate programs. For example, those you have worked in the health care field or have extensive personally experience with health care system could be ideally suited to succeed at Patient Advocacy or Health Care Management.
What are the common concerns you find from older students?
Older students are often faced with the issue of balancing the need to refresh or learn new skills, while still taking care of everyday responsibilities like full-time jobs, families, or both. They are often unable to get to classes at a set time and place on a regular basis, making it hard to commit to any kind of ongoing schedule.
Fortunately, certificate programs are perfectly designed to fit the needs of working individuals, given that many have already earned one or more degrees. The more flexible and shorter time frame needed to earn a certificate allows working students to maintain their current jobs while completing the courses and enables a non-working/unemployed audience to quickly empower themselves to re-enter the workforce. Additionally, the portability of the iPad allows students to learn on-the-go and at their own pace.
Anything we’ve missed? Empowered UCLA Extension is especially valuable to the career changer as it provides the unique combination of industry specific professional education with an intensive career transition program.
Empowered UCLA Extension sets itself apart from other certificate programs and online education offerings by providing students with end-to-end career counseling. Upon entering the full Empowered UCLA Extension certificate program, students have access to a personalized career assessment that provides individuals a method to accurately assess their skills, identify what jobs are needed in the marketplace, determine the potential matches for these skills, and how to build their education to make themselves more competitive in their desired industry or field.
Once a student’s career goals are determined and the best curriculum is identified, students partake in coursework that includes Career Empowerment Program modules, which help educate and empower students to effectively manage the lifelong challenges and opportunities associated with career enhancement and change.
Finally, students have access throughout the program to 1:1 career counseling. Distance counseling via email, phone and face-to-face online meetings, teaches students to articulate the practical value of a UCLA Extension education, leverage past experiences, and manage relationships with employers. Counselors engage students in the following activities to prepare them for entry into the job market:
• Setting new career goals by taking stock of their full professional backgrounds, interests and skills
• Marketing themselves effectively to employers by assembling all relevant job search documents into a professional online portfolio
• Competing successfully for new opportunities by developing expert, industry specific interview strategies and behaviors
Following course completion, Empowered UCLA Extension students are provided guidance during the employment search process.
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