August 17, 2012

Owens Community College Joins National Program to Train 10,000 Older Workers for New Job Opportunities

PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Owens Community College has been chosen along with 10 other academic institutions throughout the county to participate in a national program designed to train 10,000 baby boomers over the next three years for new jobs in healthcare, education and social service.

The program is offered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in cooperation with its member colleges and will ultimately comprise 100 colleges with special training programs for 50+ students. The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.

“Owens Community College is honored to be chosen as one of the few community colleges in the county to participate in the American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Encore Completion Program,” said Dr. Michael Bankey, Owens Associate Vice President of Workforce and Community Services. “Education opens doors to endless career possibilities. The College looks forward to working with the American Association of Community Colleges and local community organizations in developing an educational program that meets the needs of baby boomers throughout the Northwest Ohio region.”

The 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.), Pitt Community College (Winterville, N.C.), San Jacinto Community College District (Pasadena, Texas), Southside Virginia Community College (Alberta, Va.), Waubonsee Community College (Aurora, Ill.), West Virginia University at Parkersburg (Parkersburg, W.Va.) and Owens Community College.

In addition to grant funds, the participating colleges 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. 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 their unique needs.

“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.

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 healthcare, education and social service also appeal to baby boomers who often have an interest in civic engagement.

Vickers says the program expects to add an additional 89 colleges in 2012 and early 2013 that will help it reach 10,000 baby boomer students by 2015. Grant funding applications for AACC member colleges are available now at

The 100 colleges involved with the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program will build on the success of AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative. Since 2008, the initiative has focused its efforts on 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 college work force training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.

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, visit ( ).

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 ( ).

Owens Community College is an accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, as well as at the Arrowhead Park Learning Center in Maumee and the Learning Center at The Source in downtown Toledo. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit