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JJC helping over-50 job seekers

Resource type: News

The Herald News |

The last time Walter Corey searched for a job, it was standard protocol to go door-to-door, business-to-business, to distribute a resume.

Two decades later, however, Corey learned that not only do the job seekers of today refrain from that practice, but most don’t even leave their homes to apply for a job, instead using the convenience of the Internet to send their materials electronically.

Corey, 60, is just one of the 78 million baby boomers now approaching traditional retirement age that have found they want to continue working, but have not yet found a suitable job or the assistance they need from workforce system professionals.

Joliet Junior College aims to help make their transition a smooth one.

JJC was selected this spring as one of 15 colleges nationwide that will participate in the three-yearPlus 50 Initiative, which will develop and benchmark models for innovative programs reaching out to students older than 50. The project is funded with a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies and is led by the American Association of Community Colleges.

In an extremely competitive grant process, JJC was chosen among 48 community colleges that submitted proposals. The grant was awarded to the college’s Workforce Development division and was written by its director, Sandra Mol.

“Our hope is that the center will serve as a national model that can be replicated within existing community college career centers,” Mol said. “Our goal for this year is to increase awareness of the Plus50 initiative to both job seekers and employers, increase the number of customers who use the center, and increase the number of students who are over the age of 50 who enroll at JJC.”

According to JJC’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, for fiscal year 2008, there were 1,561 credit students 50 or older at JJC, representing around 6.1 percent of the annual credit student population.

Since the grant was awarded, the center – in the college’s City Center Campus – is now in full swing, serving clients like Corey.

After leaving his job in operations at a Chicago retailer to pursue a new career and hone his business skills, Corey brought his nearly 20-year-old resume to the center.

Kelly Lapetino, JJC employment and training coordinator, worked with Corey in a resume-writing workshop. Lapetino said she purposely keeps workshops small, so that clients can network and hold interactive conversations.

Lapetino also noted the extreme diversity of boomers coming to the center. Lapetino said over the next five years the center will continue to provide learning, training, retraining, and volunteering opportunities to individuals age 50 and older in the community.

“We are also looking forward to additional grant opportunities to support local area employers recruit and retain employees 50 and better,” she said. “Employers need to enhance workplaces and operational practices to accommodate the needs of older workers, if they hope to keep them on the job.”

JJC President Gena Proulx said she is proud that the college’s workforce development staff recognizes the significance of the Plus50 employee in today’s workforce.

“Boomers won’t be retiring at 55. Because they are projected to be living longer, they will be staying in the workforce into their 70s,” she said. “As a result, they may be in their 50s, but will be continuing in the employment market. To do this, they may pursue something new and different or may just want to update their technological and communication skills. It is a very, very exciting time to be in a position to serve this growing market.”

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United States


Joliet Junior College, Plus 50 Initiative