by Ethan Paquet
Holland College is offering a new way to support local businesses while developing a highly skilled workforce of Data Analytics and Project Management Specialists.
The Business Analytics Centre (BAC) opened in September at the Tourism and Culinary Centre in Charlottetown. It is an innovation hub designed to deliver project-based experiential learning for project management and data analytics students while providing space, equipment, and expertise to businesses across PEI, all at no cost to the businesses.
“I have been meeting with different industries and I have found a recurring theme,” says Elisha Baptiste, BAC Coordinator. “They need people with expertise in data analytics and project management.”
Every business has data, but many small businesses and start-up companies may lack the resources to manage it to their best advantage. It can be expensive to purchase data analytics systems and it can also be a challenge to find someone who understands how to interpret that data, she says.
“By partnering with the BAC, businesses will have access to state-of-the-art software and equipment and to a student who is trained to provide insight into sales figures, website analytics, and more.
“The information that businesses will obtain in using the BAC can help them make informed, evidence-based business decisions to optimize their operations, manage projects, and create new revenue streams.
“For example, we could analyze the data from a restaurant’s point-of-sales system. With that data, we can identify what meals are the best sellers and when they sell best. That information can help them with planning and creating more effective marketing campaigns.”
For students involved in the BAC, working with employers is a chance to test the skills they learn in the classroom and to gain employability skills while working with a team in a professional environment, she says.
“Participating in a project with the BAC is mutually beneficial. Students develop the skills and knowledge they need to be valued employees after they graduate. Even if they are not hired with
the company they are assisting, they will still have the experience of working in their field, and it also gives international students Canadian work experience.”
Businesses interested in partnering with the BAC can complete an information form on the Holland College website. After a meeting to discuss what projects or problems need solving, a Learning Manager is consulted to discuss how the project can be fine-tuned to make it suitable for students.
“Companies would then pitch the project or problem to the students, and the students can get an idea of whether it is something that interests them.”
After meeting with industry, Elisha says many companies are interested in getting on board. “We definitely see this method of delivery as an asset to both the industry and to students. About 98 percent of companies I have met with say that they are interested, and the need is definitely there for data analytics.”
The BAC offers two intakes of 25 students each year, who work for about four months. “For students, having that relationship with a company helps them get to know the culture, they learn skills, and the transition into the workforce could be an even smoother one.”
For more information about Holland College’s Business Analytics Centre, visit www.hollandcollege.com/about/campuses-and-centres/business-analytics-centre/index.html.