To fill talent pipeline gaps in semiconductor technology, artificial intelligence, and data sciences industries, the University of South Florida has introduced four innovative programs designed to equip early- and mid-career professionals with the skills and knowledge required to excel in these fast-changing fields.
All four programs are fully online, catering to the needs of working adults who are seeking to upskill or reskill to advance their careers and meet the growing demand for talent in these sectors. This approach reflects the university's commitment to making education accessible to a broader audience.
“These programs are designed to equip individuals with the tools and knowledge necessary to thrive in these rapidly evolving industries,” said Christine Brown, associate vice president for USF Innovative Education, which worked with faculty in the USF College of Engineering to design the programs.
The programs, which include graduate certificates, a master’s degree program, and a pathway/certificate to help people shifting careers into the engineering field, aim to help bridge the talent gap in key areas. They are all completely online, providing flexibility for working adults. Leaders believe the programs will appeal to career changers who are excited about the opportunities – and lucrative positions – in the tech industry.
"The technology and engineering sectors are constantly evolving, and the demand for skilled professionals is higher than ever,” said Craig J. Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. “USF does an outstanding job of working with our business community to understand their talent pipeline needs and then creating degree and training programs that efficiently and effectively meet those needs. These new programs will undoubtedly help address some of the talent gaps our current companies are facing."
The new programs are for individuals looking to break into or advance within the technology and engineering fields:
· Pathway to Computing Certificate: This post-bachelor certificate is tailored for people interested in transitioning into new tech careers in computer science and software engineering. It equips those with no prior computer science experience with fundamental skills in computing, including programming, algorithms, and data structures. Those who wish to earn a master’s degree in the topic receive priority admission to the formal degree program. Graduates who move on to master’s programs are well-positioned for the job market, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 22% increase in employment for computer and information technology occupations through 2030.
· Artificial Intelligence Certificate: As AI explodes and is reshaping industries, this program provides the skills needed to build and incorporate next-generation AI tools. Students learn how to design and deploy AI for real-world applications. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in computer and information research science are expected to grow by 19% by 2030.
· Semiconductor Manufacturing Certificate: This program covers critical technology in the fabrication of semiconductors, which are essential components in a wide range of products, from everyday items like cars and cell phones to advanced technology used in the military and global security equipment. The importance of semiconductors became evident during chip shortages, leading to Congress passing the CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen American manufacturing and workforce development. This program offers a pathway for individuals in electrical engineering roles to shift into this industry.
· Master of Science in Data Intelligence: Data drives decision-making and this program equips students with advanced skills in analysis and interpretation. Designed for engineers, scientists, and other professionals seeking to meet the growing demand for data scientists and analysts, it teaches data synthesis, modeling, and computational skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 33% increase in employment for operations research analysts through 2030.
“We see that there are a lot of people who want to move into these jobs but they lack the skills needed to take the next step,” said Brown. “They want to advance or refresh their careers and that is exactly what these USF online programs will help them do – while helping address the talent gap for the mid-level roles where there is a dearth of talent.”