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Plus 50 Initiative to expand to meet training demands

Resource type: News

Community College Times |

 The Plus 50 Initiative at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is expanding to meet the growing training and career development demands of older individuals who may have to prolong retirement or go back to work because of the tough economy.

“The expansion of the Plus 50 Initiative will empower many more community colleges to offer targeted training programs that help baby boomers develop marketable skills and jumpstart stalled careers,” said George Boggs, AACC president and CEO. “As institutions that respond to public needs, community colleges are on the front line helping communities and workers re-tool in a tumultuous economy.”

The help can’t arrive soon enough. Baby boomers may face the steepest odds of any unemployed workers in the job market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, laid-off workers over age 50 were out of work for 22.2 weeks, compared with 16.2 weeks for younger workers.
When they land jobs, baby boomers typically experience a more significant drop in earnings than their younger counterparts.

The expansion will pair existing and more experienced Plus 50 colleges with dozens more community colleges that will become “affiliates” of the three-year initiative. It will focuses specifically on the initiative’s training, retraining and career development area.

Century College will be a “learning partner” for nine Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., community colleges. The college will host a regional meeting for Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Anoka Technical College, Dakota County Technical College, Hennepin Technical College, Inver Hills Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College and Saint Paul College to work on implementing the Plus 50 Initiative in their workforce training and retraining areas.

Western Dakota Technical Institute (South Dakota) will host a conference for community colleges near national parks to form partnerships and disseminate lessons learned from their demonstration program working with the National Park Service to train plus-50 adults to serve as seasonal rangers and interpretive guides.

Three Plus 50 Initiative community colleges in Washington—Clark College, Clover Park Technical College and Community Colleges of Spokane—will host a regional conference in Vancouver, Wash., on how to start a Plus 50 Initiative program, involving as many as 30 community colleges from Washington and Oregon.

St. Louis Community College (STLCC) in Missouri will be a learning partner for Metropolitan Community College-Longview (Missouri). STLCC and the Kansas City area community college share regional concerns and have similar economic and educational demographics that make them ideal partners.

Central Florida Community College will serve as a partner for Rose State College (Oklahoma). Both colleges are expanding training and retraining opportunities for plus 50 students seeking to stay in the workforce.

Joliet Junior College in Illinois will team with neighboring Moraine Valley Community College, which will expand its efforts to help unemployed plus-50 workers who want to stay on the job. The partnership pairs the nation’s first community college with the second largest community college in Illinois.

The Plus 50 Initiative began its efforts to improve course offerings for baby boomers in 2008 with 15 community colleges focused on learning, training and career development and volunteering. The project is sponsored by AACC with a $3.2 million dollar grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies.