A multi-disciplinary group of York University faculty partners, led by the Schulich Executive Education Centre (Schulich ExecEd), has won $300,000 in funding from the provincial government to establish a new online micro-credentials training program for people in the non-profit and social innovation sectors.
The Schulich ExecEd proposal was created with the help of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and Chris Carder from Schulich’s Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation.
The Masters Certificate in Digital Fluency and Leading Transformation for Non-Profits and Social Enterprises will provide a foundational level of skills for leading digital transformation to people working in or aspiring to work in the non-profit and social enterprise sector. This new program will also be able to reach potential participants in Ontario’s rural, Indigenous and northern Ontario communities thanks to a commitment by TechSoup Canada with its database of 18,800 Ontario non-profit employers.
“We are so pleased to be working with the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Schulich,” said Rami Mayer, Schulich ExecEd executive director. “This is not simply another skills training course. Our goal is to help non-profits and social enterprises adopt a holistic approach to how they operate and deliver value to their clients through the integration of digital technologies and strategies in all areas of their organizations. We were thrilled to lead this initiative and bear witness to the diverse and incredible talent at our University; the collaboration across York was inspiring.”
The grant is funded by the $15-millon Ontario government Micro-Credentials Ontario Challenge Fund, aimed at accelerating the development of rapid training programs and helping people retrain and upgrade their skills to succeed in their current careers or find new employment.
The training program will consist of six competency-based micro-credentials, awarded as skills badges, which, when stacked together will represent a master’s certificate with a corresponding digital badge. As with all micro-credentials offered by Schulich ExecEd and York, these digital symbols of acquired skills are encrypted and represent credible and verifiable additions to a person’s skillset and resume.
The micro-credential foundational skills that will be developed include, Data Science and Predictive Analytics, Terrain of Emerging Technologies and Service Delivery in a Digital World. Three additional credentials, Strategic Foresight and Managing Change, Process Innovation and Operational Transformation, and Leading with Empathy and Building the Workforce for Tomorrow, will lead to a Masters Certificate (Leading Transformation).
“We are very excited to partner with Schulich ExecEd to provide training to an audience of learners that may not otherwise engage with the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies,” said Anita Lam, associate dean, teaching and learning. “In keeping with our commitment to social justice, we are designing and offering a one-day empathy micro-credential as an essential part of the Master’s Certificate in Leading Digital Transformation. Empathy is a skill that can be learned and practised by both individuals and organizations. As a 21st-century skill, empathy can help business leaders deepen their perspectives on how their actions can impact other people and the world around them. This module will help participants learn to close equity gaps and address systemic barriers in their own organizations at a time of rapid technological change.”
The Canada Helps Digital Skills Survey results for 2021 show that 40 per cent of respondents reported needing help understanding software and digital tools. Respondents also reported lacking skills to develop a strategic plan and acquire the funding, staff and knowledge necessary for digital transformation. According to a BDO survey, 64 pert cent of non-profits planned to invest in technology in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, another key rationale for developing this program.