Expand Your Career Options Through New WorkSooner Program


Expand Your Career Options Through New WorkSooner Program

If you’re looking to expand your career opportunities, you may want to check out a new program offered through the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies.

WorkSooner, a collaboration between the University of Oklahoma and the online learning platform Coursera, hopes to help those looking to enter a new career or upskill in their current position by offering multicourse specializations and certifications in a variety of fields. Courses taught by top university and industry educators are offered in areas such as IT, cybersecurity, health, business, leadership and manufacturing. Essential skills courses like communication, digital literacy and personal finance are also offered through the program.

“At OU, we work to provide the best possible educational experience for our students. As outlined in our strategic plan, we are committed to making OU’s excellence affordable and attainable. WorkSooner will help us advance this important work by providing greater access to OU’s world-class education to countless more individuals who can find success through these affordable and relevant certifications.”

Working with both organizations and individuals, WorkSooner will curate a custom group of Coursera courses that are both flexible and relevant in today’s changing job climate. These specializations and professional certificates are self-paced, taking as little as three months to complete. The Google IT Support Certificate, for example, prepares those with no tech background or traditional degree for high-demand IT jobs in just three to six months.

“At OU, we work to provide the best possible educational experience for our students. As outlined in our strategic plan, we are committed to making OU’s excellence affordable and attainable,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “WorkSooner will help us advance this important work by providing greater access to OU’s world-class education to countless more individuals who can find success through these affordable and relevant certifications.”

To provide greater access to the program, the university is working on ways to reduce financial barriers, making a WorkSooner certificate more attainable for those with lesser means. The hope is to forge future partnerships between employers and WorkSooner that reduce the cost of the program or allow students to defer the cost of the program until after they are employed with their new skills.

“With the enormous pressure the pandemic has placed on job opportunities, impacted workers need high-demand skills to swiftly regain employment,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “We’re honored to partner with the University of Oklahoma to bring the WorkSooner program to life and give hard-working Oklahomans the opportunity to acquire skills of the future through high-quality online learning.”

Mark Roberts, an entrepreneur and adjunct professor at OU who had the idea for the WorkSooner program, said the goal of WorkSooner is to provide an accessible way for those with lower means to move toward a brighter future with very little out-of-pocket cost.

“WorkSooner is designed to affect the greatest number of lives in a positive way to help reshape Oklahoma over time,” Roberts said. “Helping those who have historically struggled to break out of poverty is crucial. The WorkSooner goal is to provide them with the support structures they need to enable their success, building their self-worth in the process, and changing the course of their lives both personally and economically.”

Martha Banz, dean of OU’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies, said the college has been offering degrees and programs for adult learners for nearly 60 years. The WorkSooner program is one more way of offering working adults the flexibility they need to acquire additional educational skills.

“I’m thrilled to offer adult learners a workforce program that will help them gain the education they need to start a new career or advance in the one they are currently in,” she said. “WorkSooner is designed to help students and organizations succeed.”

Are you interested in improving your career by learning job-relevant skills? To see if a WorkSooner certification or specialization may be right for you, visit their website to learn more.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.