PARKERSBURG - West Virginia University at Parkersburg has received a $15,000 grant to help train baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education and social services.
The grant from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is part of the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, which will help more than 10,000 students age 50 and older complete degrees or certificates in in-demand occupations.
"I think it will be a great opportunity for our students and us," said Robin Ambrozy, director of non-traditional programs for WVU-P. "The college has made a concerted effort to be there for students, and we want to let people know we are here."
In addition to grant funds, the college 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 older easier. Ambrozy plans to start the marketing for the program very soon.
"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.
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 older have struggled in a job market plagued by record unemployment. Many find they must reinvent their careers and update their skills to be hired. Careers in health care, education and social service also appeal to baby boomers who often have an interest in civic engagement.
About 46 percent of WVU-P's students are nontraditional, meaning they are more than 26 years of age. They include displaced workers, workers seeking advancement, veterans returning from combat and homemakers returning to the workforce.
An independent evaluation of AACC's Plus 50 initiative found 89 percent of students agreed college work force training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent credited such training with the ability to land a new job. The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a three-year $3.2 million grant provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.