McMaster, Mohawk offer business courses for IT pros

Also read and respond to: Ring the bell, sucker, school’s back in!

It’s back to school for IT professionals looking to hone their managerial and leadership skills.

The McMaster University and Mohawk College Bachelor of Technology Partnership is introducing a certificate/diploma program in technology leadership for the upcoming fall term.

The partnership already offers a four-year program which gives students a diploma in technology from Mohawk and a Bachelor of Technology degree from McMaster. A two-year university degree also exists for graduates of the Mohawk diploma in technology or the equivalent from a similar institution.

This new certificate/diploma program, aimed at technologists already working in industry, offers courses in financial systems, entrepreneurship, organizational behaviour, project management, strategy formulation and interpersonal skills. Classes can be taken part-time, evenings and Saturdays, to avoid conflicting work schedules.

“We feel that a lot of people currently in the technology business who have technical degrees or diplomas may actually need to work on developing their management skills,” Art Heidebrecht, executive director of the McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Partnership, said. “So, we’ve offered the core management courses in our own bachelor of technology program for people who, don’t want to take our full degree or already have a degree, but still want these particular skills.”

Heidebrecht said that managerial and leadership skills are in high demand because leadership courses such as financial management, human resources and project management, are not typically covered in technical degrees.

“The general feeling was that individuals who have strong technical skills would very quickly they find themselves in project management jobs following a promotion or two,” Mike Piczak, program chair of management studies at McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Partnership, said. “So where are you supposed to get these skills? I guess you could learn them from the school of hard knocks in the workforce, but why take 20 years to learn something when a course can teach you far quicker?”

While many prospective students will be Canadian industry professionals, Piczak said the program will also attract internationally trained professionals looking to gain a foothold in the Canadian workforce. The program has been in contact with the Hamilton, Ont.-based Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO), which take care of individuals who immigrate to Canada.

“We’ve read a lot about internationally credentialed people, whose education is not recognized here in Canada, despite our usual tolerance and acceptance of diversity.” Piczak said. “So, we would like these people to take our courses and help them become culturalized to the way we do things in Canada, the way we talk to each other, our processes, systems, and things like that.”

According to Heidebrecht, the new program underwent a trial-run this spring to students in the Bachelor of Technology program. He said that the positive feedback garnered from the tests, coupled with the unique nature of the course, ensured the approval certificate/diploma for this September. The school estimates enrollment numbers to range from 50 to 100 people for the fall term. Piczak said that while that number seems small, he remembers the original McMaster-Mohawk bachelor’s degree program launching with just seven students.

“It’s probably grown something like 60 times now,” Piczak said.

And he expects the new program to grow over the next several years as well.

Also, the fact that individuals who complete the program can use the courses for advance credit towards a full Bachelor of Technology degree may also be a selling point for the school.

The McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Partnership was established by McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering and Mohawk College’s School of Engineering Technology.

Also read and respond to: Ring the bell, sucker, school’s back in!

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