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Academic opportunities meet workforce demands in tough economic times

August 14, 2009

CSU Continuing Education offers programs that can help strengthen organizations and the professionals that run them.

Academic opportunities meet workforce demands in tough economic times

As Northern Colorado continues to face widespread economic challenges, Colorado State University’s Division of Continuing Education is developing programs that foster more efficient and effective organizations. By offering training to individuals working in organizational development, Continuing Education provides Northern Colorado with accessible academic opportunities to meet ever-growing workforce demands.

“Continuing Education is continually examining needs for Northern Colorado, as well as beyond our borders, for organizational development,” says Carl Melle, program director for continuing education. “Colorado State offers a range of OD [organizational development] programs, both online and off campus.”

Under the current economic and workforce pressures, it is more important than ever for organizations and employees to be as productive as possible. Trained organizational development professionals are essential to an organization to retain quality employees and improve workplace efficiency.

Demand for people trained in organizational development

“With the economy as it is, and the challenges that come with that, there’s a huge demand and need for people trained in organizational development,” says Bob Colmenares, director of business development for continuing education. “These individuals have the tools to take existing organizations and help them to run better.”

Organizational development professionals assess the effectiveness of an organization and identify opportunities for improvement. “You look at where things are and then where you want things to be. The key is figuring out how to get there,” says Colmenares.

Continuing Education has developed degree programs that train professionals in a community to do just that. CSU’s new Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology, or MAIOP, and Master of Organizational Performance and Change train working professionals to analyze and improve performance and efficiency.

Improve a business during major shifts

An organizational development expert works to improve a business entity across a myriad of perspectives, says Colmenares. “This kind of training is particularly important during a time like this, when lots of [economic] shifts may be happening, and an organization wants to keep an eye out for what needs to change as a result of these kinds of shifts.”

Students in the MAIOP program study the behavior of individuals in organizations to determine how to improve performance and productivity. The program is skill-based, designed to provide students with the expertise to have an impact in organizations, says Kurt Kraiger, MAIOP program director. “It is increasingly important for organizations to understand how to recruit, select, and retain talented and diverse workers, and the MAIOP program gives students employable skills helping organizations do just this.”

Offered entirely online, the program enables students to pursue advanced education while still maintaining responsibilities at home and work. The online format accommodates individuals working full-time, notes Kraiger. The program’s combination of quality and convenience makes it unique among organizational development programs.

Grads prepared to grow and develop a workforce

The Organizational Performance and Change master’s program is offered in Denver and Brighton and helps students learn more about their organizations and develop the skills to apply that knowledge to help their organizations succeed. As a cohort, the same group of students starts and completes the program together, encouraging networking, relationships, and an enhanced learning community.

“These two programs are both rooted in organizational development but examine that same topic from somewhat different perspectives,” says Melle. Students have the option to select the learning style and perspective that fit their needs and career goals.

Program graduates are prepared to grow and develop a workforce and to create change in a broad range of organizations within Colorado and beyond.

This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of The Competitive Edge - a newsletter from Colorado State University with economic and business news for Colorado Opinion leaders.

Contact: Jeanna Nixon
Phone: (970) 491-2817