Pima Community College

Pima Community College East Campus

Ron McCoy Photography

Pima Community College East Campus recently was chosen to join the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national effort to train 10,000 baby boomers nationwide for new jobs in healthcare, education and social services. The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The college will assist adults ages 50 and older in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations in various healthcare, social services and education services, that give back to the community. With many baby boomers out of work or seeking to transition to a new career, the program offers skill update and career makeover opportunities.

The program will provide these older adults with such support services as academic advising, training and workshops to help them complete their training, career exploration and job placement, assistance, as well as points of contact.

PCC’s goal is to increase access to learning for people 50 and older, and to maximize the marketability of Plus 50 students seeking employment.

“The Pima Council on Aging is looking forward to our working partnership with Pima Community College and the staff of the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program as we believe this is an outstanding mechanism to identify, reach and support plus-50 learners,” said Jim Murphy, CEO of the Pima Council on Aging, one of the key local entities working with PCC on the program. “The program will bring them the much needed education and training to connect with employers and jobs in health services, social services and education.”

PCC also will be working closely with the Southern Arizona VA Health Care system and Pima County One-Stop to identify students for the program and coordinate with PCC to offer various services.

“Pima County One-Stop is looking forward to working with Pima Community College on a countywide effort to maximize the talents of workers ages 50 and older for the benefit of our workforce and economy,” said Dana Katbah, Program Manager of One-Stop’s Mature Worker Initiative.

PCC is one of 36 new colleges that AACC recently selected for the project.

“We are pleased to have this support from AACC to bolster our workforce training efforts,” said Terry Hawkins, East Campus Advanced Program Manager and Plus 50 Encore Completion Coordinator. “Adults older than 50 are an important part of the college population and Plus 50 Encore will further the College mission to develop our community through learning.”

Since 2008, AACC and its network of Plus 50 Initiative colleges have worked with baby boomers and helped them prepare for new careers. 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.

“Many adults age 50 and over want to train for new jobs that help others and are hiring, but they need to update their skills. Community colleges offer a supportive environment where baby boomers can train for new jobs quickly and affordably, while completing a marketable degree or certificate,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC.

In addition to receiving grant funds to augment training programs, participating colleges gain access to toolkits and extensive marketing resources tailored to reach baby boomers. 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 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. PCC was awarded $16,000 over three years. 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.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is a national organization representing the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest sector of higher education, enrolling almost half of all U.S. undergraduates. For more information about AACC and community colleges, visit www.aacc.nche.edu.

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