Net education programs expand

With the recent decision to allow Ontario colleges to offer applied degrees, Centennial College in Toronto has wasted no time in developing a new course aimed at addressing the skills shortage in networking.

According to Centennial, it has become the first college or university in Ontario to offer an applied degree in networking since the Ontario Ministry of Training granted higher-learning institutions the ability to offer applied degrees.

Designed to produce what Centennial refers to as “bilingual” graduates – students competent in both technology and business applications in networking, the program is a four-year course that will focus on project and vendor management, services marketing, desktop and network operating systems and configuring and maintaining LANs and WANs.

According to Robin Hemmingsen, chair, centre of e-business and network technologies for Centennial, the college originally offered a four-month post-grad certificate program that saw such high demand that the school eventually developed a three-year undergraduate diploma program in networking.

“When the government came along and said they were now going to offer degree-granting status to colleges, we automatically thought of this program because of its success to date,” Hemmingsen said. “All of our programs are developed in conjunction with what is called an industry advisory board. What we have to do is bring in industry professionals from whatever field we are developing a program in – in this case networking – and they tell us what they want. When we met with all the industry professionals and told them what we were proposing to do they said we should have done it 10 years ago.”

According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, the new applied degree programs will both expand choice for students and ensure that Ontario has the educated and skilled workers needed to support the growing economy.

Avaya Canada Corp. said it is excited about Centennial’s new program and said it is just what the industry needs to bridge the gap between business and technology.

“Avaya is looking for individuals who can successfully apply their technology expertise to the business case,” said Avaya’s Paul McDevitt, senior vice-president of services. “If you have an appreciation for how a business ticks, then you can apply the technology expertise to your customer’s business and ultimately to their customer’s business.

McDevitt added that graduates who carry both a sound business sense and concrete technology skills allow their employers to be better positioned to address all aspects of the business “and exceed customer expectations.”

The Computer and Communications Networking program was set to launch in 2003, but has been bumped up to fall of this year. The course will eventually be moved into Centennial’s Science and Technology building, which is set to be built in 2004 at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough, Ont. campus. For details, visit the college’s Web site at, or e-mail Angela Fernandes at