Essential Digital Skills for the 21st Century Workforce at Rice University’s Glasscock School

Five-minute read

Globe from space

In 2018, when Amazon announced the list of cities the company was considering for their next headquarters, Houston was noticeably absent. Amazon made it clear that we needed to look ourselves in the mirror and decide what kind of city we were going to be. Was Houston going to continue to be the boom or bust oil and gas town that the 20th century produced, or were we going to add to that 20th-century leadership a 21st-century workforce, ready to take on today’s technological challenges with a new digital skillset? Rice University’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies is helping Houston answer that question.

Over the past two years, the Glasscock School has planned and rolled out our response, adding a suite of new offerings aimed directly at the data science and digital skills market, one for which Houston’s workforce has a great need to maintain its leadership as a global center of business and industry across all sectors, including Energy, Life Sciences, and Finance. Especially as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to solidify your professional skills for an uncertain future, and our digital skills training portfolio is a reliable source for your growth and success.

The foundation of the Glasscock School’s digital skills training portfolio is our set of boot camps, offered in partnership with 2U. These curricula and teaching methods are time and market tested, and have proven successful for graduates of all of our bootcamps, which include Data Analytics and Visualization, Cybersecurity, Full-stack Coding, FinTech, UX/UI, Digital Marketing, and Technology Project Management (enrollment opens March 15). Since November of 2018, we have graduated over 1,000 students, many with new or upgraded job responsibilities, others who have started new businesses, and all with a solid, new digital skillset.

We are now also pleased to introduce a new series of online, instructor-led courses, targeting digital skills for professionals who want to automate work processes, improve supply chain efficiencies, or even start new businesses by learning new skills and technologies. For instance, you can learn to communicate and act decisively with data through our new Data Storytelling and Decision-Making course. This time-efficient course will improve your data fluency and data leadership immediately. Through our new Python, Creativity, and Machine Learning for Digital Innovation certificate, you can apply 21st century, attainable digital skills to real-life business problems, learning to solve them in a cohort-based, online format. In just 12 weeks, you can build an arsenal to take on the most daunting of business challenges.

If you want to explore and learn applications and development of blockchain technologies for business application, you will want to take one or both of our new offerings: Diverse Applications of Blockchain Technologies and Smart Contracts for Blockchain Applications. These two courses will prepare you both to devise a strategy for the integration of blockchain technologies into your business or non-profit organization, as well as the tools to implement them.

We are also thrilled to announce two university partnerships, one in engineering and one in natural sciences. Our Advanced Decision Analytics program is in partnership with Rice University's George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Industrial Engineering program. This 5-short-course certificate will optimize any supply chain or business process with 2-day courses on Decision Analytics, Factory Analytics, Inventory Management, Supply Chain Analytics, and Prescriptive Analytics. In the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, we have collaborated with the Department of Earth, Environment and Planetary Sciences to bring a certificate program to those entrusted with data stewardship within the energy industry. If this describes your role, the Energy and Data Management Certificate is for you.

As the Glasscock School's assistant dean for professional and corporate programs, I work with a team that is always looking for the next essential tool in the toolbox for Houston's workforce. Whether we're responding to messages from global market influencers like Amazon, or in conversation with our local economy's leaders, we strive to be attuned to Houston's needs as its dynamic economy grows and adjusts to new realities and drivers in 2021. Likewise, as you imagine what your career or your business can become, I encourage you to consider what kind of digital skills toolkit you will need to fulfill your dreams. Come and explore our digital skills offerings and learn with us through our rigorous and accessible open-enrollment programs designed to take you from good to great, from thorough to efficient.

Watch this space for more on these programs from those who are teaching them in the weeks to come. I look forward to welcoming you to one of our new digital skills offerings soon!

Author Information
David Vassar
David Vassar, Ph.D.
Professional & Corporate Programs
Assistant Dean


8 a.m. - 6 p.m. CT



Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies - MS-550
Rice University
Houston, TX 77005


Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies - MS-550
Anderson-Clarke Center
Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005