UTM continuing education classes giving newcomers a leg up

University of Toronto Mississauga campus
(Tory Zimmerman/Toronto Star)

The University of Toronto Mississauga is expanding its continuing education classes to attract well-educated immigrants looking to improve their skill set and obtain Canadian credentials.

Led by the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), the campus has put serious effort into increasing the number of classes and programs they offer to address the needs of nearby companies and local industries, including biotechnology, pharma, the financial sector and import/export.

“We also try to work very hard with community agencies in order to reach immigrants,” SCS’s assistant director, Phil Schalm, told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

There is an increasing demand for the new classes and programs. Over the last five years, UTM has seen significant growth in the number of students enrolled in its SCS classes — especially its business offerings. Enrolment grew from 805 students in 2008-09 to 1,976 students in 2013-2014.

There has also been an explosion in enrolment in SCS’s Academic Culture & English (ACE) program. Introduced two years ago, the program is designed for students who are residents of Canada and have been admitted to UTM but require additional English language skills training.

Schalm said data from participants in SCS’s Certificate in Life Science Enterprise over the last three years has also been very positive.

Of the 127 internationally educated professionals who participated in the programs, Schalm said more than 50 per cent of participants found employment within 12 months of completing the program. By the summer of last year, 73 per cent of the participants were employed in their own or a related field.

Additionally, the majority of those jobs were within the Peel region. “This [program] had a strong pharmaceutical orientation and most of the pharma offices are in the Mississauga area,” Schalm said.

Schalm said SCS also developed additional training and skills resources specifically for its students normally offered through a career centre for undergraduates, such as mentoring programs and resume advice. “We gave them opportunities to go through practice interviews with people from industry,” he said. “It was really designed to understand the Canadian environment more carefully.”

The next goal of the SCS program is to increase enrolment through awareness, recruiting and additional marketing. “We’re really able to offer a much broader array of opportunities than three years ago,” Schalm said, estimating the current rate of capacity at 30 to 40 percent. “So there’s lots of opportunity for growth.”

The SCS is a member of the Mississauga Board of Trade.

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