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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Owens Community College has been chosen, along with 10 other academic institutions throughout the county, to participate in a national program designed to train 10,000 baby boomers over the next three years for new jobs in healthcare, education and social service.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, offered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in cooperation with its member colleges, will ultimately expand to include 100 colleges. The program is being funded with a $3.2 million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.

“Owens Community College is honored to be chosen as one of the few community colleges in the county to participate in the American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Encore Completion Program,” said Dr. Michael Bankey, Owens associate vice president of Workforce and Community Services. “Education opens doors to endless career possibilities. The college looks forward to working with the AACC and local community organizations in developing an educational program that meets the needs of baby boomers throughout the Northwest Ohio region.”

In addition to grant funds, the participating colleges 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. They’ll also benefit from the advice and support of staff at other community colleges that have successfully implemented programs for older learners and understand their unique needs.

“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.

Baby boomers have increasingly turned to community colleges for help training for new careers. Since 2007, adults age 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.

Vickers says the program expects to add an additional 89 colleges in 2012 and early 2013 that will help it reach 10,000 baby boomer students by 2015. Grant funding applications for AACC member colleges are available now at www.aacc.nche.edu/plus50rfp.

Since 2008, the initiative has focused its efforts on training programs to get unemployed older adults back on the job.

An independent evaluation of AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative found that 89 percent of students agreed that college workforce training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training. For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, visit http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.

Ebola outbreak

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