NH higher ed provides pathway to career success

Continuing education, training fills needs of workers and businesses

As workforce development remains a top priority for many New Hampshire businesses, and the traditional workplace has transitioned into an environment where change is the norm, it has become clear that continuing education and professional improvement is a necessity for students and professionals on the path to career success.

Many of the Granite State’s educational institutions provide convenient, accessible solutions by allowing professionals to choose to attend classes on campus, complete studies online or enroll in an on-site program led by industry partners teaching much-needed, valuable skills.

NH Business Review reached out to three experts in the field to learn how lifelong learning and continuing education can help advance careers and fill the needs of New Hampshire businesses.

Our experts:

Kim Mooney, President, Franklin Pierce University. franklinpierce.edu

Michael Seidel, AVP, New Business Development, New England College. nec.edu

Dr. Bill Hassey, Director Executive Education, Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. paulcollege.unh.edu

Q. In what way is Franklin Pierce’s academic reorganization unique, and how does it benefit students?

Mooney: “A Franklin Pierce University education is first and foremost about preparing our students for fulfilling lives and careers. We are 100% focused on helping our students find their passions and develop the skills and knowledge they need to contribute in their chosen fields. To fulfill that mission, this fall the University has taken bold steps to align our academic structure to maximize learning, enhance advising, and broaden access to graduate and career opportunities for our students.

“Students and faculty are reaping the benefits of a new organization that groups faculty, programs and majors in colleges of related disciplines. The College of Business, College of Health and Natural Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences give prominence to our growing programs. Graduate and undergraduate faculties are seamlessly connected to help students progress from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s or doctorate in affordable, time-efficient pathways. Internship, research and career opportunities are expanded for students at every stage of their journey.

“The catalyst for the reorganization was our students. More and more of our undergraduates are interested in pursuing their graduate degrees at Franklin Pierce. Under the new structure, both graduate and undergraduate faculty report to the same dean, creating synergies and opportunities. Also, more of our residential undergraduates are opting to take some of their courses online, so we’ve streamlined the integration of online and on-site programs.

“For now, the university’s academic programs themselves remain unchanged. We expect the new structure to encourage faculty collaboration that will result in dynamic program development.”

Q. What is the student to faculty ratio at Franklin Pierce, and how does this benefit students? 

Mooney: “Classes are intentionally small at Franklin Pierce, with an average student-faculty ratio of 12:1, so students can make the most of personal relationships with professors and mentors. Students have abundant opportunities to ask questions, clarify their understanding, articulate their viewpoints and receive feedback, which contributes to developing the critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills that employers value.

“For courses delivered in person, experiential learning is embedded in every level of classes. Faculty include students in research projects and professional conferences to deepen their understanding of classroom learning. Students in our graduate programs in physical therapy and physician assistant studies engage in hands-on clinical work throughout their programs.

“Our online graduate programs in business, education and nursing are designed for working adults, so small class sizes foster creative collaboration among people of widely varying backgrounds. Students from all over the country, and even around the world, bring their experiences of different organizations, cultures and geography to discussions. Faculty is easily accessible, so that students get their questions answered and their viewpoints considered in a personal, responsive way.

“Our faculty are educators and mentors, and are consistently rated above the national average by our students on the interest and support given in helping students discern their unique capabilities and interests. They are immersed in their fields, and are a valued source of industry and professional connections. In knowing their students personally, they are an invaluable resource in guiding students toward internships, jobs and further education to reach their goals.”

Q. What graduate certificate programs are offered at Franklin Pierce, and how can these programs improve my career path?

Mooney: “A graduate certificate can be a valuable asset for career advancement. With a graduate certificate, professionals with either undergraduate or graduate degrees can demonstrate competency in a focused area of expertise. A graduate certificate can also provide a foundation for pursuing a master’s or higher level degree at a later date.

“Franklin Pierce offers graduate certificates in Nursing Education, and in five areas of business administration including Emerging Network Technology, Energy and Sustainability Studies, Health Administration, Human Resource Management and Sports Management. The Nursing Education certificate prepares working nurses for teaching roles in clinical and classroom settings. The business certificates align with areas of concentration in our online MBA program, which is recognized among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. These certificates can supplement an MBA, or stand alone as a specialized credential.

“Typically, graduate certificates can be easily completed over the course of one year. Courses are offered in intentionally small online classes, and are designed with working students in mind. Students collaborate closely with exceptional faculty and work with an advisor to develop a plan and schedule that align with their specific needs and goals.

“Franklin Pierce University partners with businesses, hospitals and municipalities to offer their employees flexible and affordable online degree options and on-the-ground workshops that will enhance their skills and career growth. In January 2020, the University will launch the School of Professional Programs and Partnerships to expand these programs to include credentials and short-term course work targeted to regional and state industry needs.”

Q. What are the conveniences of pursuing continuing education at New England College?

Seidel: “It’s important to note that continuing education means different things to different people, so we encourage adult learners to start by asking themselves what is important for their unique situation. New England College helps students of all ages and backgrounds develop their skills and transform their professional lives. We offer programs online, on campus and on-site, with several term starts each year. With more than 100 degree programs and also certificates and non-credit workshops available, we provide a lot of flexibility for students to choose the approach that best serves their needs and learning styles.

“We also offer residency programs, such as our Executive MBA and Executive M.S. in Information Technology and Cybersecurity, that bring more than 1,000 working professionals to our Henniker, New Hampshire, campus every year to meet face-to-face and complete the courses they began online. For many of them, these short residencies make their online classwork more meaningful. Presently, we are developing similar programs in fields like data analytics and healthcare management to meet the growing needs of New Hampshire businesses.”

Q. Where are the professional development and training programs held?

Seidel: “Our continuing education team at New England College wants to make professional development as convenient and manageable as possible, whether students prefer to attend classes at one of our campuses, complete their studies online, or be part of an onsite program with one of our business partners.

“New England College has been based in Henniker for more than 70 years, and you may have heard that we now also have a campus in Manchester, formerly the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Having a second location provides greater access to our programs, particularly for students who want more than what our online courses provide. In addition to our art and design classes in Manchester, this campus has become the new home of our Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. For over 20 years, this program has trained mental health professionals to become licensed counselors through our on-campus classes as well as our on-site classes at preferred partner facilities throughout New Hampshire.”

Q. Which continuing education programs are in demand by New Hampshire employers?

Seidel: “We all know that New Hampshire’s professional landscape is on the move. Healthcare alone is booming around the state, from hospitals that are expanding their facilities and staff to new roles, like health informatics, that are emerging as the careers of the future. Small businesses and startups in our state need flexible solutions to support their employees’ development and see their businesses thrive. Manchester continues to be a technology hub, attracting big names in the business world and recruiting top-notch talent.

“With all of this growth and opportunity comes the need for professional development and advancement. New England College’s programs are designed to meet the needs of both the lifelong learner and this evolving landscape. Our academic degrees, continuing education options, and workforce training are led by local instructors who are experts working in their fields. Take our cybersecurity programs, where our students learn from instructors who are doing amazing cybersecurity work with partners outside of New England College. The programs follow the industry-leading CAE IA/CD model and offer CompTIA certifications. Students complete the program with practical, real-world proof of their training and workforce readiness.”

Q. What types of partners do you work with in your training and certificate programs? What do you look for when including these partners?

Seidel: “We’ve partnered with dozens of New Hampshire businesses across a variety of industries and sizes to provide solutions for their workforce training and development needs, like leadership and project management training, delivered on-site for employee development. Employers generally find that these programs encourage employee loyalty and result in less turnover.

“Of course, you may have noticed recently that New England College itself is experiencing a lot of growth. The innovation and change that are happening within the College will also extend into new student offerings. We are excited to help guide this innovation and partner with additional businesses so that New England College can continue to design solutions that work. Call us. Let’s talk.”

Q. What are some of the primary benefits of pursuing continuing education – whether certificate programs or professional development?

Hassey: “Today we live in a world of continuous change, rapid fire improvements in technology and processes and an ever-changing workforce. Continuous learning and improvement are the best way we can all be prepared to thrive during these periods of change and adaptation.”

Q. How can UNH Continuing Ed help me meet my long-term career needs?

Hassey: “With the resources available here at the Peter T. Paul College we are able to provide current, research-based material delivered by award winning faculty. All programs are designed to meet the current needs of participants. ‘Open enrollment’ programs, which are open to all, are built on current topics. Other programs we specifically design with identified needs of the organizations in mind.”

Q. What are the most popular continuing education programs at UNH?

Hassey: “Our expertise is in the areas of leadership and change so all programs we deliver are designed to offer participants the opportunity to stay abreast in specific topics that are in some way related to those two themes. We have programs that relate to topics in areas such as leadership skills, finance, change and transition management and leadership, decision-making, and communication to name a few. In all cases, we are focused on helping our participants develop skills that will allow them to thrive in a changing environment.”

Q. What are the benefits of taking courses on a non-degree basis?

Hassey: “As a non-degree student, people can focus on mastering the specific skills and abilities as defined by the course in which she or he is enrolled. What is most important is the display of mastery through activities and exercises and an action plan that will allow them to take what they have learned and bring it back to their specific organization or life experience. The courses tend to be short, mostly from half a day to two days and in some cases, multi-day courses. In all courses application is a prime objective.”

Q. I am a non-traditional student who hasn’t been in a classroom for some time – in what ways will I feel comfortable? Will I fit in?

Hassey: “Tradition is changing. We are in an age where all are, in essence, going to school on a continuing basis, so continuous learning is becoming traditional. In the previous definition of ‘tradition’ we focused on age appropriateness as important. Most of our participants are people who have a tremendous amount of experience. Some have been out of school for a number of years. All are there in an experiential environment where they are not only recipients of the learning opportunity but also bring their own perspective to be a part of the learning process.”

Q. Once I start a program, how long do I have to complete certificate requirements?

Hassey: “A great benefit of the program is that they are limited to a defined number of hours or days. In both the areas of certificate and professional development, as stated before, the courses are limited in duration.”

Categories: Education