San Jacinto College joins program to train baby boomers for new jobs
10,000 adults to earn certificates or degrees in health care, education, or social service occupations
Amanda L. Booren -- September 21, 2012
PASADENA, Texas – San Jacinto College was recently chosen to join a national program, sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), designed to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education, and social services.
The College will be part of the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program and will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations that give back to the community.
According to Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College vice chancellor for learning and student success, and interim president at the South and Central Campuses, community colleges serve a wide range of students. “One of our biggest populations is those students entering or returning to college after several years in the workforce or other life pursuits,” noted Williamson. “These students are often unsure about their ability to succeed in college, and we want to provide the support and guidance they need to be successful. They are serious about their educational goals and often have a definite career in mind. What they need are tools to achieve those goals, and this program will assist us in putting those tools in place. We are excited about being a part of this initiative and serving these students.”
The other selected colleges are: Arapahoe Community College (Littleton, Colo.), Black River Technical College (Pocahontas, Ark.), Broome Community College (Binghamton, N.Y.), John Wood Community College (Quincy, Ill.), Lansing Community College (Lansing, Mich.), Owens State Community College (Perrysburg, Ohio), Pitt Community College (Winterville, N.C.), Southside Virginia Community College (Alberta, Va.), Waubonsee Community College (Aurora, Ill.) and West Virginia University at Parkersburg (W.Va.).
In addition to grant funds, San Jacinto College and participating colleges will 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. The colleges will also benefit from the advice and support of staff at other community colleges that have successfully implemented programs for older learners to understand their unique needs.
“Baby boomers are not like traditional college students,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC. “We find that colleges need to adapt how they operate to support their job training needs and educational success.”
Those adaptations might include adjusting registration systems to accommodate students who don’t have electronic transcripts, tailoring career counseling to the needs of older adults who need to re-train quickly and get back in the job market, forging partnerships with employers and community organizations, and educating faculty about baby boomer learning styles. As part of its program, AACC will develop an implementation manual with guidelines and promising practices for serving the plus 50 population.
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 health care, education, and social service also appeal to baby boomers who often have an interest in civic engagement.
The American Association of Community Colleges expects to add an additional 89 colleges to the program in late 2012 and early 2013 that will help it reach 10,000 student completers by 2015. 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.
The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant over three years to the AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust. The 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, go to http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu.
About the American Association of Community Colleges
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is a national organization representing close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling more than 13 million credit and non-credit students annually. More information is available at http://aacc.nche.edu.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.