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Bespoke short courses booming to meet demand for career shifts

Effects of pandemic mean professionals ‘want to upskill quickly to enhance their career prospects’

The University of New England in regional New South Wales says demand for online short courses in areas such as health management has rapidly increased in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The university, which has several campuses in the state’s northern tablelands, offers graduate certificates that allow professionals to upskill or retrain within six months to a year.

Jonathan Powles, pro vice-chancellor for academic innovation, said the university’s Bespoke Courses were developed two years ago to help meet the challenges posed by robotics and artificial intelligence to job security.

“We could see that the world of work was becoming an increasingly unpredictable place,” he said in a university statement.

“Literally overnight, the way we work and what we do has been irrevocably changed. Record unemployment as a result of the pandemic has forced many professionals to move to either add new skills or retrain entirely.”

He said that professionals who wanted to upskill in areas such as health management or data security often did not have the time or finances to commit to a full masters degree.

“They want to capitalise on the skills and expertise they already possess, so they can pivot to take advantage of emerging opportunities. They want the freedom to focus only on those subjects that will enhance their career prospects right now.”

He said the university “pioneered distance learning in the 1950s” and understood it was “not just about making content available on another platform”.