GCC to train 10,000 older workers for new jobs

November 19, 2013

Baby boomers to earn certificates or degrees in health care, education or social service occupations

GREENFIELD, Mass. – Greenfield Community College (GCC) 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. GCC is collaborating with Franklin County Home Care Corporation, the local Area Agency on Agency, and with the Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board and Career Center to refer Plus 50 candidates to GCC’s training programs and work with program completers to place them into new job opportunities.

Greenfield Community College will  enhance and update  its existing personal care assistant and home health care aide  training programs to address new standards so more students can receive state certifications.  GCC currently offers a wide array of training and career pathways in the health occupations, including credit-bearing Associate Degree Nursing Program and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Certificate, as well as credit-free workforce healthcare paraprofessional training: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Nursing Assistant (NA) & Home Health Aide (HHA), and CNA to HHA Supplemental Training.

“We appreciate and are pleased to receive funding from the American Association of Community Colleges in support of this program and its workforce training goals,” said Robert L. Pura, GCC President. “We convened a consortium of Franklin and Hampshire County providers from throughout the long-term continuum and together established shared core competencies (using nationally recognized evidenced-based best practice tools and resources) and performed a comprehensive assessment in order to identify skills, knowledge gaps and employee training needs.  Adults over 50 are a growing population in our region and aligning their employment training opportunities with area employer workforce gaps aligns with our college mission to serve the diverse educational needs of this community.”

The 38 colleges join 62 colleges previously selected. The additional newly-selected colleges are: Albany Technical College (Albany, Ga.), Brookdale Community College (Lincroft, N.J.), Brunswick Community College (Supply, N.C.), Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington, N.C.), Capital Community College (Hartford, Conn.), Central Arizona College (Coolidge, Ariz.), Clark State Community College (Springfield, Ohio), Community College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Davidson County Community College (Lexington, N.C.), Delta College (University Center, Mich.), Delaware Technical Community College (Georgetown, Del.), Eastern Iowa Community College District (Davenport, Iowa), Edgecombe Community College (Tarboro, N.C.), El Camino Community College District (Torrance, Calif.), Gateway Community and Technical College (Edgewood, Ky.), Grays Harbor College (Aberdeen, Wash.), Green River Community College (Auburn, Wash.), Henderson Community College (Henderson, Ky.), Highland Community College (Highland, Kan.),  J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College (Huntsville, Ala.), Jackson State Community College (Jackson, Tenn.), Jefferson Community and Technical College (Louisville, Ky.), Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Madisonville Community College (Madisonville, Ky.), Milwaukee Area Technical College (Milwaukee, Wis.), Montcalm Community College (Sidney, Mich.), North Central Michigan College (Petoskey, Mich.),  Oakton Community College (Des Plaines, Ill.), Panola College (Carthage, Texas), Piedmont Community College (Roxboro, N.C.), Piedmont Technical College (Greenwood, S.C.), Phoenix College (Phoenix, Ariz.), Roanoke-Chowan Community College (Ahoskie, N.C.), South Arkansas Community College (El Dorado, Ark.), South Texas College (McAllen, Texas), Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Fla.), and Tulsa Community College (Tulsa, Okla.)

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.

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

For more information about GCC’s Plus 50 Initiative, contact Bob Barba, Dean for Community Education, at 413-775-1606.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing more than to 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.