LAKEWOOD, WA – Clover Park Technical College will be helping more plus 50 adults complete college and attain the skills they need to get hired thanks to a new grant from Lumina Foundation for Education and support from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Plus 50 Initiative.
“We are excited to partner with the AACC for the Plus 50 Initiative. In times of high unemployment, workers over the age of 50 need this kind of support and Clover Park is the right place to complete their credentials and degrees so they can get back to work,” said Dr. John Walstrum, president of Clover Park Technical College. “The College is committed to building on the success of our existing Plus 50 program.”
The Lumina Foundation grant builds on the successful Plus 50 Initiative launched by AACC in 2008 in which Clover Park Technical College is involved. It is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Support from The Atlantic Philanthropies will augment the new Plus 50 Completion Initiative.
The grant to AACC is part of a commitment by Lumina Foundation for Education involving 19 organizations working strategically to help adult learners complete college.
With the aid of the four-year grant, AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative will work directly with 20 community colleges to increase the number of students age 50 and up, especially those with some prior college credits, to complete credentials and degrees that can help them get hired.
“With support from AACC, community colleges will be able to improve services for thousands of plus 50 adults seeking credentials,” said Dr. George R. Boggs, president of AACC. “Our participating colleges know the specific needs of plus 50 learners and are eager to expand their work helping older adults complete degrees and certificates that are marketable in the workplace.”
In addition to Clover Park Technical College, the colleges beginning the project include: Cape Cod Community College (West Barnstable, Mass.), Metropolitan Community College (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Green Bay, Wis.), Pasco-Hernando Community College (New Port Richey, Fla.), Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Fla.) and Wake Technical Community College (Raleigh, N.C.). An additional 13 colleges will be selected by AACC to be involved in the project within the first two years of the four-year grant program.
The Plus 50 Initiative at AACC has focused much of its efforts since 2008 on training and re-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 plus 50 work force training helped them acquire new job skills and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.
The Plus 50 Completion Initiative aims to help plus 50 workers who are still struggling to recover from the economic recession that sparked record unemployment levels and decimated retirement accounts. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployed older adults were the least likely of all unemployed workers to find jobs, with only about 15 percent of them finding jobs each month in 2009.
Education credentials will be needed for the jobs of the future. The BLS predicts that 30 percent of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations will be filled by people who have a postsecondary education credential.
“Helping adult learners complete their college educations – whether that means a degree or a credential – is part of our response to President Obama’s ambitious agenda for America to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020,” said Boggs.
Earlier this year, AACC joined five other national organizations to sign a public pledge 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.
“Without degrees and credentials, plus 50 workers will continue to be shut out from being hired. Community colleges can help them complete their educations, attain credentials and degrees that are in demand, and get these older adults back to work,” said Boggs.