Centennial offers Canada

Organizations wanting to hire graduates trained in business analytics and predictive modeling can look to Canada’s first graduate certificate program in this area, resulting from a collaboration between Centennial College and business intelligence technology vendor SAS Canada.

The program, starting in September, was developed in response to an “exploding” analytics industry, said Centennial College professor Victor Sousa. While individual courses already exist across various colleges and universities, a 13-course curriculum spanning two semesters has never before been offered.

“That’s the big difference,” said Sousa.

The program is designed for those who already have an undergraduate university degree or college diploma. The target student varies: those wanting to develop a specific skill; those who have been out of the workforce for a while and want to brush up on existing skills; or, those who are new immigrants who want to make themselves more marketable in Canada.

The niche program responds to the trend that sees large organizations relying on business analytics and predictive modeling techniques to make sound business decisions, said Sousa.

The curriculum includes courses such as database mining and analytics to help organizations mine and report on, for instance, point-of-sale data. Another course in advanced marketing research teaches concepts in statistics using software but without a heavy math focus. And, another is an industry research project.

“The new program is not just reporting on data, but rather to report and predict and do analytics. So we went a step beyond,” said Sousa.

Building upon an ongoing relationship with Centennial College, SAS Canada is providing the analytics software for free along with training for instructors. The two parties have also collaborated on the curriculum.

Cameron Dow, vice-president of marketing SAS Canada in Toronto, said the market demand for business analytics continues to grow rapidly. In fact, a recent survey by SAS shows 84 per cent of Canadian businesses view analytics as critical to making decisions, but the number one barrier is lack of analytical talent.

“The good news is there are jobs for them out there in the market space,” said Dow.

SAS Canada is working with other academic institutions to offer similar business analytics programs but with “different flavours” to address the multiple areas within an organization where analytics is useful, such as risk management and finance, said Dow.

Sousa said he anticipates about 30 students to register, an initially small number because it’s “not a broad generic program.” But after, he expects interest will grow as it gains traction.

Centennial College, established in 1966, has four campuses in the Greater Toronto Area.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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