The future of work in Canada is changing, and with it the demand for talent to fill the growing number of jobs in the burgeoning fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is greater than ever.
With changing job demands, companies are also putting more emphasis on a critical blend of hard and soft skills when hiring and promoting their industries. Hard skills include technical knowledge and abilities, while soft skills are more about an employee’s behaviour, communication, and cognitive skills.
Despite the increasing demand for talent in the STEM fields, equal gender representation continues to be a problem. According to Pew Research Center, women in computer science and engineering have the lowest rate of representation at 25 percent and 14 percent, respectively. A global report on state of Date Science and Machine Learning highlights that the representation of women in data sciences is a weak 17 percent, despite it being one of the most in-demand hard skills.
Continuing education helps women overcome obstacles
The York University School of Continuing Studies (York SCS) is one institution that’s empowering women to enhance their careers in these fields. Since 2018 alone, the growth of women students in their tech programs have risen over 62 percent. Their continuing education programs prepare the future workforce, while also emphasizing the cross-functional, “human” skills that companies are increasingly looking for in emerging talent.
Victoria Granova is an alumna of the Cyber Security program at York SCS. Her goal was to apply her learnings to improve the cyber security strength at her then-workplace.
“The current environment isn’t just a challenge — it’s a great opportunity.”
– Victoria Granova
“I had enough knowledge to identify opportunities for improvement but didn’t have the skills at the time to demonstrate the gaps and to remedy them in an effective manner,” Granova explains. “As early as my first class in the Cyber Security program, I was able to gain information that was immediately applicable to my environment.”
York SCS offers a diversity of innovative continuing education programs in emerging fields, including User Experience (UX) Design, IT Audit Execution, Machine Learning, Full-Stack Web Development, and Big Data Analytics. The programs are designed with guidance from leading professionals in these industries, ensuring students are well-prepared for career success when they graduate.
“The network I formed with the students and professors greatly helped me to continue to explore the field outside the classroom and to develop an understanding of the career possibilities that may lay ahead,” says Granova. “Also, the knowledge I gained helped me successfully complete the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam shortly after the program, and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam a year later.”
Everyone deserves a place in the digital economy
Programs addressing emerging fields at the York University School of Continuing Studies are designed so professionals like Granova can reach their goals on their own schedule. Students benefit from a dynamic blend of online and in-class learning — programs are part-time and accelerated, allowing for work-life balance and faster completion.
“If you’ve found a field in which you have a true interest, and where you can continue to build your skills and pursue your passion, you’ll find a team and an environment with similar goals that will support and succeed with you,” says Granova. “The current environment isn’t just a challenge — it’s a great opportunity.”