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Biz Talk: Continuing education programs — Innovating within higher ed

This article was written by Conor Courtney, Strategic Initiatives Manager for Arlington Economic Development.

Associates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees traditionally dominate the education component of workforce development. However, a lesser-known alternative is poised for tremendous growth and opportunity: continuing education programs. Companies choose to locate in Arlington because of its highly-educated workforce, making Arlington a prime destination for continuing education programs.

What are Continuing Education Programs?

Continuing education encompasses any post-secondary education that degree-holding professionals pursue. These programs are agile, affordable, responsive and customizable, showcasing their importance in a rapidly changing economy. They come in various formats, including micro-credentialed programs, industry certificates and customized courses based on company needs.

Such programs can last anywhere from two weeks to a semester, and you no longer must enroll in a multi-year program to reap the benefits. Employers, universities and working professionals have a unique opportunity to further higher education’s role in workforce development.

The Learner’s Perspective

Newly acquired skills from a continuing education program can unlock immediate career growth potential. Several universities even offer self-paced courses to meet the time constraints of many working professionals. Acquiring new and relevant skills for your profession dramatically increases your earning and career growth potential. Perhaps you are looking to change careers but don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a new degree; continuing education programs help break down those barriers. They equip you with industry-relevant skills, grow your professional network and increase your marketability.

The Employer’s Perspective

Investing in your employees is not a new concept, but identifying how to invest in your employees is not always straightforward. Employers, especially those in rapidly changing industries, need their employees to constantly adapt and grow to meet industry demands. Offering continuing education programs to employees is a strategic investment that can produce immediate and long-term benefits.

Your employees will learn cutting-edge technologies and best practices within weeks, improve retention and identify your company’s future leaders. Some universities even offer custom employer cohort programs, where the employer and university collaborate in developing a tailored curriculum for that specific employer.

The University’s Perspective

Universities can further their role in real-time workforce development by offering continuing education programs with a diverse catalog of programs, courses and credentials. For those in Arlington or the D.C. Metro Region, numerous local universities offer continuing education programs.

George Mason University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Marymount University and Northern Virginia Community College are just a few local universities offering continuing education programs. The types of continuing education programs offered include Business Process, AWS Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Facility Management, Government Contracting, Healthcare, Finance, Leadership, Project Management, Cybersecurity, Computer Engineering and Health Tech.

Check out the continuing education programs offered by our local universities:

Whether you are looking to accelerate your career growth or branch into a new field, continuing education programs offer various programs and courses to help you meet your goals.

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