Newly funded micro-credential programs will provide Albertans with job-ready skills

Albertans aiming to upgrade their skills, gain new skills or rejoin the workforce now have a new avenue at the University of Alberta, thanks to $1.14 million in new provincial funding over the next two years.

The investment in 10 U of A programs is part of an $8-million announcement from Advanced Education to fund short-term micro-credential programs to help Albertans quickly re-skill or upskill to meet the demands of a changing economy.

“We invite Albertans looking to accelerate the next stage of their careers to come to the University of Alberta to seek a bold new future,” said Bill Flanagan, U of A president.

“The post-secondary institutions of today must be forward-looking, flexible and solution-oriented — producing graduates with the talents and skills required to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Of the 10 projects at the U of A selected to receive funding, a certificate program in computer game design submitted by the Faculty of Arts received the most, $497,250.

Digital humanities professor Sean Gouglas, who heads up the computer game design certificate, explains the program consists of nine 10-hour micro-credentials that focus on level design, interactive experience and interface prototyping, and user testing.

He adds the funding comes at a time when video games are experiencing a surge. The Canadian games industry generated $4.3 billion in revenue last year — a 20 per cent increase since 2019.

“Computer games have become the most important media form today, providing a cultural touchstone for generations of Albertans,” says Gouglas. “It is important that Canadians and Albertans generate stories and experiences unique to our lived experiences.

“Promoting a vibrant gaming economy in Alberta through a talented and skilled workforce will help its citizens tell those stories.”

The funding will support the development of 69 micro-credential programs at 21 post-secondary institutions across the province. The programs will align with the priority industry sectors outlined in Alberta’s Recovery Plan, including health, artificial intelligence, energy and software engineering, among others.

Jessica Butts Scott, U of A associate vice-president of online and continuing education, notes micro-credentials are hyper-focused on developing a specific set of skills and competencies that address the gaps an industry is seeking — through short, powerful bursts of quality and credible learning.

“This funding will enable the University of Alberta to continue to develop innovative micro-credential courses and programs that suit the changing and growing needs of our learners and the workforce in Alberta,” says Butts Scott.

“We look forward to the micro-learning opportunities and connections that we will build as a result of this funding.”

Micro-credential programs support the Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy by providing students with flexible and innovative learning opportunities to help them develop skills for jobs.

“Micro-credentials empower Albertans to develop the job-ready skills they need to be successful and build new careers, while ensuring employers have access to the talent they need to grow their business,” said Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides. “I’m thrilled we’re able to expand this program in a meaningful way that supports our students, post-secondary institutions, employers and industry to secure Alberta’s future.”

The U of A programs receiving funding include:

  • Computer Game Design Certificate
  • Tenue de livre (Bookkeeping)
  • Interprofessional Healthcare Simulation Series
  • Accompagnement de l’enfant autiste (Autistic Children Support)
  • Physics Inspired Neural Networks (PINNS)
  • Electricity Markets
  • A Reinforcement Learning Approach to Artificial Intelligence
  • Tourism and Recreation Series
  • Blockchain for the Supply Chain
  • Social Procurement and Environmental, Social, Governances (ESG) Leadership

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