WSU Offers Low-Cost, Flexible Learn and Work Courses
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University is offering flexible, short-term training courses and certificate programs to help prepare and enhance career opportunities in high-demand fields.
The classes are part of Utah’s Learn & Work educational initiative. The Legislature passed H.B. 5010 to encourage career development and workforce engagement for citizens recently displaced by COVID-19. The outreach and education initiative was created in partnership with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Talent Ready Utah and the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). CARES Act funds are supporting the new and expanded programs and courses.
Husband and wife Alexander “A.J.” and Jungeun “Angela” Herold are taking advantage of the opportunity. As COVID began battering the world, they both were looking to find security and challenge in new careers. They enrolled together in WSU’s new Computer Science “CS” Flex program.
“Computer science is a better career path for our family,” Angela said.
According to A.J. the new program, which allows them to take classes at their own pace, makes it easier to succeed academically as working parents.
“We do have really busy schedules, and the thing we’ve liked about the program is it allows us to pause when we need and take our time getting through a section of the course,” A.J. explained.
The Weber State courses and degrees are available through both Online & Continuing Education (OCE) and various colleges on campus. They offer many options in the fields of computer science, health, geospatial technology and business. The OCE courses are available at a low cost, and participants will earn certificates and badges as proof of competency. Students who enroll in the WSU academic short-term training courses can apply for scholarship assistance.
CS Flex Program
The timing of the Learn & Work initiative aligned perfectly with the launch of the CS Flex program, which the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology (EAST) has been developing in coordination with industry partners for several years.
The CS Flex format uses mastery learning and allows students to progress through 10 lower-division courses at their own pace that go toward earning an associate of applied science degree.
For the Herolds, CS Flex allows them to take classes together, even though they have very different educational and professional backgrounds. A.J. had a couple of years of higher education that he said weren’t very successful. He began work in marketing, which provided quite a bit of computer development experience, particularly scripting. Angela, on the other hand, had a degree in accounting but no experience in computer science.
“It’s good for me,” Angela said, “But it’s really good for A.J. because he had the experience, so he can go faster. For me, I can take some time to study more, as long as I meet the due date, so it’s been a great program for us.”
Eventually the CS Flex program will expand to include upper-division flex courses as well.
“Industry is especially served by our CS Flex program. It provides online courses in a high-tech discipline in a flexible way, so people who are both unemployed and underemployed can access the education needed to qualify for higher paying, higher demand jobs,” said Brian Rague, associate dean of EAST. “CS Flex offers an alternative to the traditional semester schedule to help launch Utah learners into profitable technology careers.”
The Herold’s began in the pilot program in summer 2020, where they successfully completed three courses. They are now enrolled in the next three.
“We’ve been able to work through things together,” A.J. said. “To have a second of eyes to look at something when you run into a roadblock is helpful.”
Online & Continuing Education
Online & Continuing Education is offering a different option for a number of computer and technology courses. Students who complete the courses can obtain certificates or badges that build their qualifications in high-tech, high-paying jobs. Weber State coordinated with industry leaders to ensure course content is relevant and valuable.
“We live in a world that changes quickly,” said Brian Stecklein, interim dean of Online & Continuing Education. “Small learning opportunities like the ones offered in these courses can be a great start to a new career, as they can enable workers to make themselves more marketable in this challenging environment. We hope these upskilling opportunities are just one component of a lifetime of learning that can take people where they want to be.”
The Legislature allocated $4,500,000 each to GOED and the Utah System of Higher Education to create the programs that will be promoted to furloughed, laid-off or dislocated workers, as well as underserved or other populations affected by COVID-19. GOED will oversee the public information campaign through the Utah Works program within its Talent Ready Utah center. The initiative supports the Utah System of Higher Education’s Custom Fit program and several other workforce training programs to provide education and training at the state’s public higher education institutions.
This Learn & Work initiative also supports Weber State’s commitment to stackable credentials, which help students earn certificates and degrees that build seamlessly on each other all the way from certificates to graduate degrees.
For more information about all the WSU Learn & Work programs visit this link.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.