When Artur Bastos came to Canada from Brazil, he left behind a career as an electrical engineer in the field of industrial automation. From his time in that sector, he observed the need to develop solutions to secure software and grew a deep interest in cybersecurity.
When Bastos arrived in Toronto, he began looking for a training programs that would give him a solid foundation in cybersecurity fundamentals and the much-desired certifications that employers are seeking, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Security+ from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
After assessing various schools, Bastos enrolled at the Toronto School of Management (TSoM), which has established relationships with industry partners like Amazon, Intuit, Oracle and Tableau. The collaboration with partners in information technology, hospitality, data analytics, digital marketing, accounting, and sales augments the school’s core curriculum and gives students job-ready skills.
“Certifications are very important to get a job in cybersecurity,” says Bastos, who is currently working in a co-op placement in Mississauga, Ontario.
“A lot of job postings ask for AWS knowledge. I have learned it’s crucial to have that as well,” says Bastos, who is currently pursuing the Security+ designation.
The speed at which employers require an employee to add or upgrade skills in the current work environment has given rise to the popularity of microcredentials, which are both valuable in the day-to-day performance of one’s job and for career advancement.
“Some of the industry partner certifications are embedded in the curriculum, and others are offered to the students to pursue on their own time,” says Eugene Demchuk, associate director of Academics and Student Services at TSoM.
“The best part is that when they enroll with us the students are not doing it on their own — they have the instructor, classmates and entire support structure here behind them should they need any help or assistance.”
With TSoM’s Cybersecurity Specialist program, Security+ is embedded in the curriculum.
“We cover the materials needed for the student to be able to write the Security+ exam from CompTIA at the end of the program,” says Demchuk. “Throughout the eight modules, we cover the domains of the Security+ exam that is proctored by CompTIA. It is intertwined with our curriculum, and we use the CompTIA Security+ book to teach those courses as well.”
If the student completes all the assessments, they will receive TSoM’s diploma in Cybersecurity Specialist Co-op.
In addition to Security+ and AWS Educate, TSoM has industry partnerships with Oracle Hospitality, Intuit Quickbooks, Tableau, the data visualization software company, Salesforce (Trailhead) and the Digital Marketing Institute.
“We are always looking for other opportunities for our students, especially now with microcredentials and badges being so popular. We see a lot of value for students to showcase these credentials on their LinkedIn pages and résumés. It’s also about more targeted knowledge acquisition, which is important in a fast-changing environment for young professionals,” says Demchuk.
Access to Oracle Hospitality software OPERA is provided to students in TSoM’s diploma programs in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
“Most hotels around the globe will have a property management system that helps maintain room inventory, billing and revenue management. OPERA is a system used by hotels around the world,” says Demchuk.
Students learn the program in a simulation environment as if they were at the hotel’s front desk. The student can see, from their classroom, how to make a registration, how to release a room, put it on hold or change a registration.
With Tableau for data visualization, the student would have to cover the program’s certification cost, but TSoM covers the curriculum and practical aspect of how to use Tableau. It is up to the student as to whether they obtain the actual certification.
TSoM’s relationship with the Digital Marketing Institute is the most comprehensive.
“By completing our program, the student receives a dual credential. There is no additional test to write — by completing our eight modules of Digital Marketing Specialist Diploma, they will automatically be qualified for an additional certificate from the Digital Marketing Institute,” he says.
Trailhead from Salesforce helps students gain new skills. It is gamified, with assessments that demonstrate the level of skills, and badges and points that show progress. Participants can choose from various topics to learn new skills at their own pace. As part of TSoM’s Diploma in Business Administration Co-op, Diploma in Business Management Co-op and Diploma in Business Management, students learn strategies and tools to be a good manager.
In the current job market, graduates like Bastos need to have the core skills and certifications to land the job and be able to hit the ground running. Already, in his co-op role as a security analyst at a software company, he is seeing the benefit of the program. Industry partnerships like that which the school has with CompTIA help students take on jobs with the right combination of academics and the latest industry knowledge.