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Education: A Renewable Resource

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Farah Kaleem, Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations, The Talent Pool

 

It’s all too familiar a story; someone is laid off from the energy sector and scrambles to find a job in a climate where there are fewer and fewer opportunities in their industry.  The body of the story is a montage of trials, interviews and realizations that a change needs to be made to achieve success. The end of that story has yet to be written for some, but for some proactive others like Farah Kaleem, the next chapter has begun.

Farah moved to Calgary two years ago from Pakistan. “I was working with CAPPA (Canadian Association of Petroleum Production Accounting) as an Events Coordinator.  With the economic downturn, our sponsorships were drying out and we didn’t have budget to do events.” She admits that the writing was, indeed, on the wall, “After the annual conference, they decided to let me go.”

“It was my first winter in Calgary,” she says. That foreign chill embodied her internal struggle.

Like many who were let go late last October and afterwards, she had to make use of her new found time, “For the first few months, I was too busy looking for work, but the market was brutal. It took me a while to realize I had to do something constructive.”

So, she enrolled at MRU Continuing Education.

“I was referred to MRU Cont. Ed. by a friend doing his Supply Chain Management Certificate,” she admits. “He said why don’t you look at their courses. They have really good instructors and the class sizes are small, so you get adequate level of attention from the instructors.”

On this recommendation, she signed up for an introductory course on Marketing and Strategic Communication. While taking the course, she says, “I really enjoyed my experience. The teacher was very focused and open in terms of sharing ideas and listening to our ideas and experiences.”

As she delved further into the certification from late February through July, the perks only got better, “I got exposure to professors from different industries doing similar types of work I was doing,” she explains. This allowed her to reach into these different industries for employment.

Just this week, Farah Kaleem started her new job as a Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations at The Talent Pool, which supports businesses in search of skilled professionals. She is optimistic about this role, which reports to a supervisor Farah describes as, “very accomplished, cooperative and I am looking forward to learning a lot from her.

Having successfully navigated the waters of career change during an economic downturn, it seems like she’s the perfect person to assist others in their transitions. She chimes, “It’s exactly what I wanted and needed.”

And so, the story’s conclusion is a new beginning, a continued new life in Calgary with an exciting new opportunity. “I love it here.” She says of her new hometown. With the transitional help of MRU Continuing Education, things are looking up for Farah.

– by JLove

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Amazing Grace Under Fire

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Kara Solecki, Police Studies

 

If being part of a police force means being calm in the face of chaos then Kara Solecki has selected the right program.

Currently enrolled in the Police Studies Extension Certificate at MRU Continuing Education, Kara and her family were forced to show grace under fire when they were among the 88,000 residents evacuated from Fort McMurray this summer.

“I was at work,” Solecki remembers, “and reports started coming in that specific neighbourhoods had mandatory evacuation orders, and pictures started surfacing of the fire in full tilt in town.” That was the time that her ‘serve and protect’ instincts kicked in. “It wasn’t so much shock at that point as it was fear; worry about all of my friends and family, and then a sort of surreal calm; it was time to plan what the next step was.”

That next step was gathering with her family (mother, father, two sisters, aunt and uncle) and leaving their home in the Timberlea neighbourhood at the mercy of the spreading wildfire.

“We didn’t know where we’d end up so I was planning for the worst and getting any supplies that may be necessary.” She says. Among the short list of items she was able to grab were her textbooks. She recalls, “For whatever reason, at the time I didn’t think I could part with them… It was exam time!”

Despite a nail-biting drive out of town on a quarter tank of gas, an evacuation plane ride into Edmonton by Westjet and the community of Rocky Mountain House rallying to support her family as they stayed temporarily with friends, Kara kept up with her studies. “I got through that month away through the help and support from my professor Doug King and keeping busy. There was so much emotional turmoil at that time, but staying busy with school work was just so normal, and it felt like it grounded me.” In hindsight, she reflects that, “I needed this sense of normal so desperately, when everything else was anything but normal.”

She remains appreciative that Doug King and other staff at MRU suggested and supported any extensions she might need, and let her know that told her to focus on her safety and well being. That support, Kara admits, “allowed me to put my worry elsewhere.”

“The flexibility of MRU’s online Police Studies Extension Certificate has always been important to me, as when I signed up, I decided to continue working full time as well as pursue other studies.” Now back with family and friends in her hometown she’s grateful to be immersed in her studies while dealing with her new normal, “During the time I was evacuated, this flexibility obviously showed it’s benefits once again.”

As for what’s next, she realizes that the unexpected happens, but it’s a good idea to have a plan. “It is my hope to attend MRU‘s Bachelor of Arts – criminal justice degree program in the fall of 2017, then I plan to pursue a career in probation or parole; hoping to be one of the first people of contact in the road to rehabilitation for criminal offenders.”

Kara concludes, “Taking this course helped clarify what a huge portion of my future will look like and made me realize that I never want to stop learning.”

-by JLove

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Fire in Solecki’s neighbourhood
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Evacuation Road in Ft. McMurray
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Back to School: By the Numbers

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Back to school brings back many memories.

You can always count on a few staples; first day photos, that written assignment asking what you did last summer, and some new form of math.

This Fall semester, MRU Continuing Education plans to keep one of those back to school staples strong with a new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate. “The program is designed to provide students with a working knowledge of accounting principles, the bookkeeping process and the use of accounting software,” says Kate Estby, Program Coordinator, BPE. “It aims to provide both a theoretical foundation and the practical application of accounting knowledge.”

The distinction is comprised of two core courses, Financial Accounting Fundamentals (36 hours) and Accounting Fundamentals Practice Set (12 hours), then students can select two of the following accounting software options.

         MS Excel Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 2

         Quick Books Level 1

Estby thinks a major draw is the hands-on focus of the program saying, “It provides students with a month’s worth of accounting documentation for a small retail business. Students are expected to practice the activities performed during the accounting cycle, including journals for business transactions and adjusting entries, extracting trial balances, posting journal entries to the general ledger and preparing financial statements.” It’s designed to be as real-world savvy as possible to provide students with authentic practical accounting situations.

This type of offering is one of many that MRU Continuing Education is offering. Accounting Basics is a career skill that is easily transferrable. According to Estby,

“This program would be great for anyone who works with the accounting department including managers or payroll professionals.” In addition, she notes, “the combination of both theoretical and practical knowledge provides the skills needed to make yourself more marketable to work in business and management positions.”

But, its relevance goes further, Estby says, “The practical nature of the course also supports individuals looking to start their own business who need a foundational knowledge of the accounting system.”

Regardless of who you are, there are some back to school staples. First day photos we’ll leave to you, what you did last summer can be posted on your social media channels, but for the new form of math… we’ve got you covered with the new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate.

To find out more about the program join us for an online information session on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 12:00 – 12:30 pm. To register or to find out more, click here.

 

– by JLove

 

 

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The HR Advantage

 

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One of the advantages a Human Resources (HR) program has over any other is no matter where your career ends up you will always have to interact with people. The fundamentals and principles you learn through HR has the ability to make you a better employee, supervisor, manager, owner… heck, a better person.

Studying human resources you are exposed to gain a working knowledge of: Strategic Planning, Leadership/Management, HRIS HR Technology, Recruitment, Terminations, Administration, Metrics, Performance Management, Training and Development, On-Boarding and Orientation, Succession Planning, Exit Interviews, Mentoring, Health and Safety, Position Descriptions, Recognition Programs, Benefits, Disability Management, Conflict Resolution, Retention, Compensation, Policies and Procedures, Satisfaction Surveys/Culture Surveys… to name a few.
 

The majority of students are hung up on receiving a position that contain the words ‘Human Resources’ in their job title. But, the wonderful thing about studying and implementing ‘Human Resources’ is that you can do it in any position and at any level.

 

I make this point at the beginning of any course I instruct as approximately 50% of my students are professionals brushing up their education and 50% are wanting to get into HR with no previous experience. My advice is, regardless of your position, to start doing what you learn in class right now!

 

At the end of one of my class a student (let’s call her ‘Eve’) came up to me. This is how our conversation went.

Eve: I’m a waitress and I deal with customers all day, how am I supposed to practice HR with my customers?

Adam: Who screens your resumes, selects candidates, interviews and orients them?

Eve: My manager, and he does a terrible job. He is always busy so he just hires whoever.

Adam: Why don’t you offer to help screen some resumes so only the candidates you feel would be a good fit will be hired?

Eve: What? I don’t get paid for that!

Adam: You are missing the point, you have no experience, only a good educational foundation, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it, start applying what we are learning in class now and help out your manager. How else are you going to get practical experience?

Eve: … (stunned silence)

By the end of the course, Eve was screening resumes, interviewing candidates, training and onboarding. She became a better employee with her existing company and was gaining practical experience for her upcoming dream job in human resources.

Another advantage of an HR education is you get to learn the inside scoop on how people get hired. Getting a job in the current market can be very challenging. I have seen many students struggling with this and have created a web series to help. With informative topics like The Modern Resume, Interviewing, Networking and Accessing the Hidden Job Market, there’s a lot of important information you need to find your next job. You can access it here: goo.gl/aaKrdG.

These are among the advantages an HR education has over any other program. You can essentially apply it anywhere, anytime, in any job. It’s up to you how to find the best way to use these skills to forward your career.

 

  • Guest Author Adam Czarnecki
Adam Czarnecki

Adam Czarnecki, CHRP is a member of the Senior Management team of a heavy duty truck dealership group in Alberta where he is responsible for HR, H&S and IT. He is a past HRIA Board Member and a HR instructor at the Mount Royal University.

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It’s How You Say It

 

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English for Internationally Educated Professionals

 

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

-Nelson Mandela

International professionals have three unique courses to help them improve their English language skills in their workplace this Fall. With a focus on context of English use, these courses offer a lot of feedback and first-hand training to ensure that emerging English speakers are understood.

“Storytelling is our most natural and fundamental communication tool,” says Jennifer Orr, Program Coordinator for Speech Arts and Drama, MRU Conservatory. The addition of speech coaches offers unique value to the Enhanced Speaking Skills for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) course.

She explains, “Our voices are most effective when our own thoughts and emotions are connected. English as an additional language (EAL) speakers often lose vocal range, confidence and expression as they work to speak in English. The language is not fully their own, so their voice isn’t either.  We hope to change that.”

Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute, agrees that in the case of IEPs, it’s not just what they say, it’s how it’s said in the context of their work environment. “Language training that focuses on this enhanced quality helps improve overall confidence.”

Pathways for Internationally Educated Professionals (PIEP) is a blended format course (classroom and online components) that also has a dramatic flair. With a weekly theme, participants role-play workplace scenarios with actors, then receive feedback from the language instructor, a business expert, their peers and the actors themselves. Kathy says they’re not focused on grammar per se, but instead looking for, “that which interferes with understanding rather than trying to be perfect.” She adds that the feedback is on a more complex level, “It’s not the standard ‘You used the wrong verb tense’, but more along the lines of ‘You mixed up she and he and your verb tenses were inconsistent so I couldn’t follow the story’.”

The rule of thumb for all enrolled in these courses is, “My language is only as good as it fits the context in which I’m trying to communicate.” Each workplace sets its own professional tone and has its own professional lingo that must be understood to facilitate effective communication.

In its final offering this academic year is the Communication Studies for Health Professionals (CSHP) course, which has targeted language integration techniques in the medical and healthcare fields. Kathy nods, “It’s been a great way to help healthcare professionals understand hospital culture so they can transition to the Canadian context more easily.” This was a course that also offered participants the opportunity to role-play with actors in medical examination situations. When CSHP is no longer offered, healthcare practitioners will be able to enrol in PIEP and gain workplace communication skills alongside fellow professionals in other sectors.

From a vocal perspective, the classes will be experiential and all students will be fully engaged in the process of storytelling,” Jennifer Orr attests. From vocal tone, range and expression to vocal strength and confidence, storytelling can be empowering. “When we tell stories we access our memories and experiences – and are free from the constraints of “formal” communication.” Orr states. “Storytelling brings the speaker into the communication moment and the audience to the speaker.” This, by extension, enables IEPs to assimilate and communicate with their chosen professions’ corporate culture.

That, as Orr put it is, “Powerful stuff.”

  • by JLove
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Real Time Supply Chain

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“Technology.

Smart phones.

Wifi.”

These are the first things to come to mind when Dr. Brian Fleming, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University is asked about how the industry is changing.

When it comes to streamlining the delivery of products from production to distribution, these innovations are game-changers. Fleming, a veteran in the industry, recounts that, “Fax was the expediter. Back then 6 or 7 days for snail mail was appropriate. But in today’s world, you get text messaging and apps that enable sales people to get into factories to check inventory and determine production schedules in real time.”

Regardless of the timeline, Fleming recognizes that, “The concepts behind Supply Chain Management are fundamentally the same.”  It’s finding the most efficient way of getting things from production to consumption. But, with a change in technology comes a new demand for the players.

From the clients’ perspective, “In today’s world, you can order one item.” With lot sizes of one, suppliers have been forced to look at things differently. “Everyone used to want zero inventory,” Recalls Fleming, “But that’s not the case now.”

As a sign of the times, MRU has been able to offer some flexibility to Supply Chain Management students. “By taking our 9 Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) courses online with our agreement between Mount Royal University Continuing Education and the Bissett School of Business, our BBA students can now be working on a co-op position and still move forward.”

Thus expediting the time it takes to go from A to B.

“Supply Chain fits into any industry.” Fleming instructs. “Oil is the big dog in Alberta. It pays well. But, I can work for Calgary Food Bank, YWCA, transportation, warehousing…” his list goes on.

As for opportunity, he suggests that with flexible online course offerings, students these days are getting a global reach, “One student in Brazil has completed two courses, while another working with Volkswagon in Germany has completed a course.”  He continues proudly, “Two other students are working in Kamloops in the mining industry and a varsity hockey student will be graduating the BBA through the online components.”

Supply Chain Management is becoming an increasingly important and rewarding part of many organizations. Trained and qualified people are needed to research, develop and execute the next innovative efficiencies. According to Fleming, he forecasts that the future is not far off, “Amazon is currently testing drones for deliveries.”

For registration information, click here.

  • by JLove
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On Point. Online.

 

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Change is inevitable.

The content we create is ever changing. New ideas mean new conversations, debate and exploration.

The way we reach out and connect with our world is changing. In a marketplace currently obsessed with the augmented reality of Pokémon Go!, it’s impossible to imagine where new ideas will lead.

The way MRU shares ideas is changing too.

MRU Continuing Education has launched MRU Think Talks, a series of presentations from MRU thinkers, available to the global online community.

“The goal is to get people thinking about issues that impact us locally and globally.” says one of the instigators of this new initiative Dimitra Fotopoulos, Program Director, Business and Professional Education for MRU Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension. “We are looking to shine a light on some of the amazing talent within the MRU community that can speak to these issues and provide some critical insights into them, to get a conversation going and hopefully create a dialogue.”

The inaugural speaker, Joanne Leskow, is an award-winning Organizational Change Management instructor whose keynote entitled “Loving Change” captivated the audience at the exquisite Bella Concert Hall in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, and promises to influence viewers online to embrace changes in their own lives.

“Joanne is so well versed in managing change and how it can be personal or professional,” says Fotopoulos, who adds, “she came to mind first because of her great expertise in the subject, the fact that she is an excellent public speaker, and most importantly that she connects so well with her students.”

It’s worth noting that many of the attendees of her session were her former students.

Moving forward, MRU Think Talks will showcase speakers and thinkers that resonate with the times, Fotopoulos explains, “We are responsive to what is happening around us and want to share our the expertise of MRU instructors, Faculty, alumni and community with others.” The hope is to amplify the exemplary idea-sharing these instructors do on a daily basis. “It’s a lot like what is currently being done in our classrooms, it’s just connecting with a larger student body online.”

Leskow offered a thoughtful presentation, drawing from her personal and professional experiences. Its roots were in reflection, not merely information. Through her guidance, the audience was compelled to take stock on how they themselves deal with change and how a shift in perception might offer a different, and perhaps more rewarding, life experience.

It’s this type of connection that Fotopoulos encourages, “MRU Think Talks will be aligned with our program offerings so participants can quickly identify what courses or training they would need if a particular topic resonated with them. “

With more scheduled to follow in the Fall, Fotopoulos and her team are excited, “We are looking forward to a dynamic and engaging series where people have an awareness or understanding of topics that they didn’t before, and they can ask themselves, “now that I know this information, what’s next for me, my job, my family

Enjoy Joanne Leskow’s MRU Think Talk.

Watch, Think & Share.

MRU Think Talks
On point. Online.

– by JLove

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Top 3 Benefits of Global Innovation & Leadership in Education

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Gloria Ladson-Billings

 

Good educators know our world is more interconnected and interdependent than ever. No matter which part of the globe you are from, we are facing related issues and challenges. So, how can we foster global collaboration in areas like professional learning, teacher leadership, teacher professionalism and innovation? One way is to bring international cohorts together to share ideas, innovations, best practices and resources through an international conference.

MRU Continuing Education embarked on such an initiative, co-sponsoring the 2016 International Research Conference on Innovation and Leadership in Education in partnership with Kappa Delta Pi, an international educational honor society based in Indianapolis.  From July 5-7th, the Ross Glenn Hall was a meta-classroom with speakers and attendees from countries including Colombia, Australia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, China, United States and Canada. There were conversations, presentations and more that prove that leaders in education are lifelong learners themselves.

In the words of several of the presenters and attendees, here the Top 3 benefits that MRU has provided to create and support global leaders in Education:

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  1. Innovative Ideas

Keynote speaker Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Distinguished Chair of Urban Education, thinks the networking of ideas and colleagues is imperative, “Many of us are caught up with our day-to-day responsibilities, committee work and answering student concerns… and this is a venue where we get to think about our work and talk about our work without the politics of the institution or the department structure.”

 

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  1. Empowering Teacher Leadership through Technology

Ludmila Smirnova, Mount Saint Mary College, NY, explains why she is a strong advocate for technological advancement in the classroom, “Pedagogy is still lagging behind because of state regulations, testing and it forces teachers to teach to test. It’s mostly direct instruction. Technology opens doors. Technology is ahead of pedagogy. It allows students to create, interact, collaborate and produce… and teachers are not prepared for that.”

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  1. Open Mindedness

Dr. Clelia Pineda, Associate Professor, School of Education at Universidad de La Sabana, Chía-Bogotá, Colombia tells us, “Open-mindedness. That’s the key. If you are open enough to learn enough from others. To see diversity as a positive aspect not as a negative aspect. To learn, to gain different perspectives, I think that’s the foundation for good leadership.”

Universally these educators and researchers were pleased to come together to learn. Keynote speaker Dr. Pineda says, “We were so used to fragmentation. Now, there’s a strong emphasis on creating these links.”

Though there were countless other takeaways from the international research conference, this event emphasized the significance of global partnerships, and the sharing of innovative educational practices. They came together at MRU.

The Innovation and Leadership in Education International Research Conference demonstrates MRU’s ongoing commitment to teaching, scholarship, and professional development. Follow-up activities include the formation of intercultural teaching and research teams that will collaborate and then share what they learn during forthcoming conferences and professional development courses offered by MRU’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension and by Kappa Delta Pi. For more information, please contact one of the conference organizers:

Dr. Charlie Webber, Dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension, Mount Royal University cfwebber@mtroyal.ca

Dr. Jodi Nickel, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Education, Mount Royal University jnickel@mtroyal.ca

Dr. Peggy Moch, Professor, Math Department, Valdosta State University plmoch@valdosta.edu

Faye Snodgress, Executive Director, Kappa Delta Pi faye@kdp.org

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Happy Camper

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Mireille and her happy camper, Amilyn with MRU Kids’ Program Coordinator Kevin Gilbert

 

MRU Kids was excited to award a free camp to social media winner Mireille Visser-Klaver.

When asked how she entered, Visser-Klaver reported, “Some friends of mine shared it on Facebook,” but was quick to add, “I usually don’t click it but… this time, I thought ‘it can’t hurt’.”

She was rewarded with a free one-week camp for her daughter Amilyn who, by her own confession is, “Five. I’m almost in Grade One.”

They arrived together at the MRU Kids Headquarters, an on-campus office decorated like a comic book superhero base, to select the camp that Amilyn will attend.

Visser-Klaver announced, “We signed up for the Field Trip Camp. They have a field trip everyday. I just heard they are going to Calaway Park and they’re going to the pool.” This choice was firmly seconded by the young camper herself who chirped in that she was most excited for, “Calaway Park for the rides.”

But for her mom, who looked relieved that the amusement park experience was unparented, she fancied the on campus facilities, “I kind of leaned towards the one with the swimming pool – and went for something that fits her bubbly personality.”

The Junior Field Trip Camp is one of many program offerings for kids aged 5-17 including Sports & Adventure, Music Makers and Tech Academy Camps.

With a smile, they left the MRU Kids Headquarters singing. “I had a little turtle… His name was Tiny Tim… I put him in the bathtub… to see if he could swim…”

With a week off for Mireille and a week of adventure for Amilyn, it sounds like summertime is here.

  • by JLove

 

 

 

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Ground Control to Major Success

 

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Last week, Calgary’s Kenn Borek Air flew an emergency evacuation of two Antarctic-based patients in need of medical care. The Twin Otter plane flew 2,400 km and successfully landed on it’s ‘landing skis’, ski-like apparatus resembling aquatic pontoons, on compacted snow in total darkness only to turn around after ten hours and transport the patients to Punta Arenas, Chile. The crew of this mission was made up of some courageous pilots, medical professionals… and flight dispatchers.

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Twin Otter Plane – Courtesy of CTVNews.ca

Sylvain Duclos is an instructor/facilitator for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate. “It’s a profession like no other,” he admits. “You make all the decisions. The result of your actions and decisions are felt and seen right away.”

With this recent mission, it’s obvious that these trained choices made on a day-to-day basis are actually saving lives.

Duclos says the program’s content is, “broad-base and touches on all subjects in aviation.” From the basics of how an airplane flies to specifics like, “Commercial Aviation Operations, flight planning, Air regulation and procedures, flight safety and Aviation weather and more… it is a very unique career path.”

Describing the profession as mostly, “unknown,” Duclos says the program has much merit. “It’s a great way to get ready to write the Transport Canada written exam in a hands-on, engaged, interactive atmosphere. Once the course is completed and exam written, a student/candidate can apply for a Flight Dispatcher position with various airlines anywhere across Canada. It’s not geographically binding.”

With a transitional career market, those with an interest in aviation might find their careers take off with this certification. “There is movement in the industry at the top,” he adds, noting the retirement of long-serving aviation experts, “which is felt at the lower levels as well. The long term outlook is good.”

With clear skies towards that horizon, graduates from MRU have an advantage, Duclos explains, “The local airline industry is aware of this course and has hired from this class repeatedly over many years.” So for those who have had a departure from their career or are looking to plan a new destination on your radar, Duclos confesses that it’s a rewarding field. He stresses, “There is a real sense of accomplishment…of a job well done.”

The rescued Antarctic-research patients are grateful for the aviation crew for the evacuation mission. For the flight dispatchers involved, their training and expertise saved lives. For many who are looking for a fresh start, registering on the flight-path towards a flight dispatcher career just might save theirs.

Registration for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate is now open for Fall 2016. Click here for more info.

  • by JLove

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