CAC joins project to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs

By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Central Arizona College was recently chosen to join the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national effort to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education and social services. The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The college will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations that give back to the community. With many adults age 50 and over out of work or seeking to transition to a new career, the program offers skill updates and career makeovers for baby boomers.

Central Arizona College can now, for example, prepare older adults for careers as certified nursing assistants with a new fast track certificate program that is stackable to a degree.

Since 2008, AACC and its network of Plus 50 Initiative colleges have supported baby boomers coming to college and helped them prepare for new careers. It's a program that works. Eighty-nine percent of students participating in AACC's Plus 50 Initiative told an independent evaluator that college workforce training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.

"Baby boomers who are out of work or want to transition into new career fields need to update their skills. Community colleges are affordable and working to help baby boomers, even if they've never stepped on a college campus before," said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC.

Vickers added that many of the plus 50 adults who participate in the program also find great meaning and purpose in their work after they get hired. "Jobs in health care, education and social services give baby boomers a way to give back to society, so plus 50 adults find these careers to be particularly rewarding," said Vickers.

In addition to providing grant funds that augment college workforce training programs, participating colleges gain access to toolkits and extensive marketing resources tailored to reach baby boomers. They also benefit from the advice and support of staff at other community colleges that have successfully implemented programs for older learners and understand the unique needs of the plus 50 student population.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust. The Plus 50 Encore Completion program supports AACC's work to increase the number of students who finish degrees, certificates, and other credentials. In April 2010, AACC committed alongside other higher education organizations to promote the development and implementation of policies, practices and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing more than 1,100 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling 13.4 million credit and non-credit students each year. Learn more at www.aacc.nche.edu.

For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, see http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.

For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at Central Arizona College, please contact Joel Beck, Plus 50 Encore Completion Coordinator, at joel.beck@centralaz.edu or 480-677-7721.

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814