When the COVID-19 outbreak started in March 2020, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Continuing Education program shifted to all online instruction in order to comply with the state’s stay-at-home mandate. The university overcame challenges to keep its faculty and students safe while staying true to its mission to educate students.
The Continuing Education program continued helping individuals and employers achieve their professional, personal, and organizational goals by offering quality programs with practical application. In order to do so, program leaders looked to outside resources to help with funding during an uncertain and difficult transition.
The City of Charlotte awarded UNC Charlotte Continuing Education grant funding so they could train students and workers who had been impacted by the pandemic.
The funding provided scholarships for some of the most in-demand certificate programs such as Business Analysis, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and Visualization, Financial Technology, Human Resources, Learning and Development, and more.
As a result of the Workforce Partner Support Grant from the City’s Open For Business initiative, the Continuing Education program awarded more than $327,000 in scholarships to 91 individuals. The program received over 200 applications for the scholarship in Fall 2020 and its website traffic more than doubled when compared to the same period last year.
“The demand for our scholarship program exceeded our expectations. We ran out of our allocated scholarship funds earlier than anticipated,” said Michael Utsman, the Engagement Communications Manager for UNC Charlotte Continuing Education. “Fortunately, we were able to extend a tuition discount to those individuals who submitted an application but didn’t receive an award.”
“The applications read by our staff were sometimes heart wrenching with how people have been impacted by COVID-19 and how earning a certificate would help their careers and improve their situation,” Utsman explained. “The Workforce Partner Support grant affirmed our mission and belief that education can benefit individuals and society when it comes to income, career advancement, skill development, and employment opportunities.”
Although the Continuing Education department navigated through uncertainty, the students were grateful for the program’s hard work and adaptation to virtual learning so they could pursue career development opportunities.
“Being unemployed, I have been avidly searching LinkedIn for career opportunities and continuously see postings for data professionals,” said Cameron Farquhar, who enrolled in the Data Analytics and Visualization Certificate program with UNC Charlotte. “The opportunities across a vast array of industries seem endless and I truly feel that these skills will set me up to be in high demand in the workforce.”
When it comes to the future, UNC Charlotte Continuing Education intends to build off its success and continue providing support for its scholarship recipients through advising and networking opportunities including interviewing and resume workshops.
UNC Charlotte received a Workforce Partner Support Grant from the City of Charlotte’s Open for Business initiative. Through the grant program, the City of Charlotte has awarded $3.5 million to workforce partners to provide programs for our community.