Friday, April 8, 2016

Advantages of Online Learning for Boosting Your Career

In today's competitive job market, knowledge and skills are ever-increasing importance, and education in a relevant field is the ideal way of boosting your value to employers. However, if your time is already filled with work and life commitments, making room for a traditional class isn't always practical. Online learning offers many benefits and advantages for busy people who want to add new qualifications to their resume.

Flexible Hours for Learning
The single greatest advantage of online learning is the ease with which it can be made to fit into your existing busy lifestyle. There's no need to rearrange your schedule to fit in classes or fixed appointments. With online learning, you receive your study materials along with a deadline to be met, and from then on, it's up to you to study at your convenience. This makes it ideal for people with jobs, children and other commitments that make it difficult to find time for more traditional courses set to formal hours.

Variety of Study Subjects

With night classes at a local college, your choice of courses is limited to what's on offer within reasonable traveling distance. This isn't the case with distance learning. Whatever topic you wish to study, chances are you'll be able to find it as an online or distance learning course somewhere in the country. You will often find it easier to choose the level of qualification you want, from an introductory certificate to a full degree because this format offers much more flexibility than traditional adult education classes.

Online Support, Networking and Resources

Online learning usually makes excellent use of the internet, with online communities of students available to offer each other support and help at any time of day, along with online tutor consultations, coursework submission and study material downloads. Naturally, all of these features can be a part of traditional learning as well, but the nature of distance learning means that these facilities are often the foundation of the course, and are given a high priority and offer high value.

Up-to-date qualifications and expertise are prized by employers, and can make all the difference in building a successful career. For the reasons discussed above (and more), online learning with a reputable institution is an ideal way for busy people to give their employment prospects a powerful boost, and experience the personal fulfillment that comes with increased knowledge and skills.

UNF Continuing Education is please to announce a new partnership with Career Step, a leading provider of high quality online career training. Programs include, Pharmacy Tech, Medical Coding, Medical Transcription, Computer Technician, Veterinarian Assistant and many more. Visit our online learning page or join us at our Online Career Training Information Session at 6 p.m. on May 5 to learn how you can train for an in-demand career in one year or less! RSVP today! 

About Career Step:
Career Step is an online provider of career-focused education and corporate training. The company has trained over 100,000 students for new careers, has more than 150 partnerships with colleges and universities nationwide, offers a variety of continuing education courses for healthcare professionals and has educated more than 8,000 health information professionals through its Corporate Training Division. Career Step provides training for several of the largest and most respected healthcare employers in the nation and is committed to helping students and practicing healthcare professionals alike gain the skills they need to be successful in the workplace—improving lives, advancing careers and bettering business results through education.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Five Professional Development Observations from 2015

As we leap over the threshold from 2015 to 2016, we enter into a new year of possibilities; these opportunities are revealed from our accomplishments of 2015. Here are our top five and what they reveal for 2016. 
  1. UNF Continuing Education served over 6,000 individuals in 2015, seeing the greatest training growth in healthcare, logistics, Lean Six Sigma, quality improvement and project management. Jacksonville stays on track with the nation, representing growth in these industries as business growth in general surges ahead for 2016.

  2. Professional development skills training saw an increase from last year. Professional development includes software, supervisory, time management, negotiating and other soft skills training which provide solid results. When businesses provide effective and affordable training solutions, they see the benefits and invest in their employees. For 2016, we are keeping training solutions affordable, expanding our online programs and building on our business partnerships for customized training solutions.

  3. The trend for certifications continues to grow. Our students earned the following certifications: Transportation & Logistics, Health & Wellness Coach, Instructional Systems Design, Paralegal, Lean Six Sigma and Warehouse Associate. Companies are seeking out individuals with high-level specialty knowledge. Niche-knowledge experts are relied upon to give companies a competitive edge over competitors slow to evolve to the individual-driven culture we see today. 

  4. Leadership development training increased in 2015. The economic downturn and the slow recovery were a harsh wake up calls for many businesses. Our Leadership Development Program provided the perfect mix of traditional and proven leadership practices with progressive, idea-generating innovation for providing real solutions to business’ biggest challenges.

  5. We strive to better serve those who have served us – our veterans. Funding is available for qualifying veterans for many of our programs. To help veterans take full advantage of the education benefits they have earned, UNF Continuing Education has a Veteran Education benefit specialist. Lori Frederick has been approved by the Veterans Administration to help veterans complete the required paperwork to certify their course enrollments. We have seen how our certification programs have helped ease the transition from military to civilian life. Contact Lori to learn more.
We look forward to assisting you with your 2016 training and consulting needs. Let’s get started. 

Visit us online,, select Course by Subject from the Quick Links on the right or view the information-packed pages using the menu on the left. Call our fantastic Customer Care Team at (904) 620-4200 or e-mail us at

Friday, January 22, 2016

Lean Six Sigma Means Less Work, Not More

By Keith Gardner

A common concern held by many managers, is that the introduction of a new continuous improvement initiative, such as Lean Six Sigma (LSS), could mean more work for them and their team. Now, not only will they be expected to manage the scores of other responsibilities, they need to find time to drive continuous improvement, further straining their scarcest resource -  time and people.

In fact, when implemented correctly, nothing could be further from the truth. Lean Six Sigma is not another "thing" that has to be squeezed into a day already full of more tasks than can reasonably be accomplished. Lean Six Sigma is just a better way to get many of the things that already need to be done, just more effectively and efficiently. That is, Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that managers and their staffs can utilize to better achieve the goals they already have and complete the tasks that need to be completed, outside the existence of LSS. 

All too often, we see managers operating under the misconception that they need to develop lists of LSS projects as a separate activity so that they have something for the Green and Black Belts to work on. This is normally completely unnecessary as managers already have lists of things that need to be done or process outputs that need to be improved; in fact, far more than they have any hope of actually working on. Rather than create the impression that we need to start brainstorming from scratch, just ask the managers where their “pain” is. What can we help with to make tomorrow better than today? With a few moments to separate which opportunities are well suited to LSS, the management team has a list of LSS projects in the queue.

Once priorities of existing issues is established, the LSS DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) methodology offers a structured methodology for solving the problems and reducing the “pain.” That is, rather than stumble and fumble through the continuous improvement process, follow a structured methodology that has been proven over 20+ years. The DMAIC methodology provides the organization with a clearly defined set of steps and tools designed specifically to increase not only effectiveness, but also increase efficiency. Effectiveness is not enough. Given that our scarcest resources are people and time, we need to ensure efficiency, as well. The LSS approach offers management teams the opportunity to get better results with less time and effort. 

The Center for Quality & Process Improvement at the University of North Florida offers a combination of training, consulting and facilitation designed to meet each client’s unique needs. UNF offers online and instructor-led courses, as well as contract classes, consulting and facilitation in in more than 40 topics all related to continuous improvement and enhanced organizational performance. 

For more information on how the UNF Center for Quality & Process Improvement can help your organization, contact Lori Frederick, program director, at (904) 620-5801 or

Keith Gardner has been consulting and training in the area of quality and productivity improvement for the past fifteen years. As the lead instructor, his primary focus at UNF is Lean Six Sigma. He regularly consults with managers and senior executives in the implementation and enhancement of organizational Lean Six Sigma programs.

Gardner has worked with hundreds of clients in 24 countries in telecommunications, logistics, health care, call centers, staffing services, governmental agencies, the military, engineering services, food, automotive, metals, electronics, chemicals and furniture. He has a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Michigan and is an ASQ-certified Black Belt.