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Rutgers Offers Free Online Certification Program for Unemployed

Rutgers University has developed an online program offering certification in a number of professional areas to residents who are unemployed and seeking to redirect their careers. The business school at Rutgers - Camden has been using online education for some time to provide continuing education opportunities to professionals holding a business degree. Now it has expanded its offerings into several other professional sectors.

Several years ago school officials established the Rutgers Institute for Management and Executive Development program, for which the mission is to "allow participants to gain new skills and sharpen existing abilities on their own schedule, while working toward certificates in such in-demand fields as information technology, Web design and customer service." Originally the program provided outreach to working professionals who needed the flexibility of distance learning in order to participate.

With the surge in New Jersey's unemployment rate caused by the recession, the program has taken on a different role. For unemployed state residents there is funding available through the New Jersey Department of Labor's Workforce Development Program to participate in the program. Unemployed workers who need new skill sets can go through the Rutgers continuing education program for free.

The program typically takes three to four months, depending on the subject matter and the student's pace. Each course covers about seventy hours of learning - that is, time spent online studying course content. In addition there are about thirty hours of time devoted to completing assignments. Students can access course material any time of day or night, seven days per week.

There are two dozen educational fields in which students can obtain certification, including business ethics, call center management, marketing management, and family business management. According to a Rutgers press release the most popular programs are in project management and human resources. Program participants who complete their certification in these areas can continue on to gain a project management degree or a human resources degree after finding employment.

The program has an excellent track record. According to the University's continuing education program manager approximately 630 people have completed the Rutgers online certification classes, with nearly 80 percent of participants finding jobs within three months of completion. Part of this success comes from partnerships, formal and informal, between the school and surrounding businesses. Rutgers and many other universities have developed ties with the business community in order to make their placement offices effective.

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