School of Continuing Studies partners with Mount Royal University to address cyber security skills gap in Alberta

Two women look at a computer and collaborate on a documentStarting this fall, professionals in Alberta striving for career success in cyber security will have access to two innovative continuing education certificates – the result of a new partnership between the School of Continuing Studies at York University and Mount Royal University, in Calgary, AB. The Cyber Security Program, made up of the certificates in Cyber Security Fundamentals and Advanced Cyber Security, allows participants to earn two valuable credentials in under one year, with each certificate taking five months to complete.

This partnership comes as a result of the School of Continuing Studies’ mission to prepare Canada’s workforce for the future of work, which demands a blend of technical and cross-functional (or human) skills in order to succeed in the face of increasing automation and advances in technology. The demand for cyber security professionals in Calgary and surrounding areas is growing – claiming the largest skills gap outside the GTA – making access to education in this area critical to ensure job market demand is met and that job candidates in cyber security have the skills required to succeed in the field.

Since its launch in 2016, the Cyber Security Program has assisted more than 200 professionals to upskill and prepare for sustained career success. For York alumna Victoria Granova (BBA ’15), the program was a chance to return to York University to enhance her business administration degree with the additional technical skills she needed to successfully pivot her career in finance and accounting to one with more technology focus. The part-time format allowed her to study while balancing her work commitments.

“My goal was to use my newfound knowledge to improve the security posture at my then-workplace,” said Granova. “I was able to identify opportunities for improvement, but did not have the skills to demonstrate the gaps and remedy them in an effective manner. As early as my first class in the Cyber Security program, I was able to gain information that was immediately applicable to my environment.”

Granova says the “stimulating discussions in class” during the Cyber Security program fueled her newfound passion for the field, leading to her current position as a senior information security consultant with a major Canadian bank. She credits her time in the program for her success. “The network I formed with the students and instructors greatly helped me continue to explore the field outside the classroom and develop an understanding of the career possibilities that lie ahead,” she said. “The understanding I gained helped me successfully complete the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam shortly after the program, and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam a year later.” Since graduation, Granova has stepped into a director role on the (ISC)² Toronto Chapter board – a career-defining achievement that punctuates a period of intense professional growth that began with her continuing studies at York.

The York University School of Continuing Studies has enjoyed a groundbreaking year. According to its 2018-19 annual report, the school saw a 130 per cent growth in enrolment in its continuing professional education programs. Students build upon their existing academic experience with a focus on the real-world experience and critical skill building that employers value when hiring and promoting in today’s competitive job market.

With new certificates being launched every year, and partnerships with leading organizations ensuring curriculum is tied to career outcomes and shifting labour demands, the School of Continuing Studies supports York’s vision of inclusive, high-quality education committed to meeting societal need at home and across Canada.