Parkersburg, W.Va. 9/17/12 – The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recently awarded West Virginia University at Parkersburg $15,000 to participate in the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program. This national initiative is designed to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in healthcare, education and social services.
The college will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in in-demand occupations that give back to the community.
“I think it will be a great opportunity for our students and us,” said director of non-traditional programs Robin Ambrozy. “The college has made a concerted effort to be there for students, and we want to let people know we are here.”
In addition to grant funds, the college will gain access to thousands of dollars in marketing materials such as toolkits and training webinars that will make the work of reaching out to students age 50 and over easier. Ambrozy plans to start the marketing for the program very soon.
“Baby boomers are not like traditional college students. We find that colleges need to adapt how they operate to support their job training needs and educational success,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 initiative at AACC.
Those adaptations might include adjusting registration systems to accommodate students who don’t have electronic transcripts, tailoring career counseling to the needs of older adults who need to re-train quickly and get back in the job market, forging partnerships with employers and community organizations and educating faculty about baby boomer learning styles. As part of its program, AACC will develop an implementation manual with guidelines and promising practices for serving the plus 50 population.
Baby boomers have increasingly turned to community colleges for help training for new careers. Since 2007, adults 50 and over have struggled in a job market plagued by record unemployment. Many find they must re-invent their careers and update their skills if they are going to get hired. Careers in healthcare, education and social service also appeal to baby boomers who often have an interest in civic engagement.
Approximately 46 percent of WVU Parkersburg’s students are nontraditional, meaning they are over the age of 26. They include students such as displaced workers, workers seeking advancement, returning from combat veterans, and homemakers returning to the workforce. Ambrozy plans to find more of these individuals and let them know that WVU Parkersburg is here for them.
An independent evaluation of AACC’s Plus 50 initiative found that 89 percent of students agreed that college work force training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training. The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant over three years to the AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.
To learn more about WVU Parkersburg’s non-traditional programs, visit www.wvup.edu/Flex_degrees. For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, visit http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.