What is Plus 50?
About Plus 50 Initiative
The Plus 50 Initiative is a project to benchmark and showcase the most current and innovative programs at community colleges that engage learners age 50 and over. Organized by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Plus 50 Initiative invests in community colleges to create or expand campus programs that engage the plus 50 student population, with a focus on workforce training and preparing for new careers. Since 2008, the program has given grants to 138 community colleges, which collectively enrolled 37,494 plus 50 students in workforce development programs. The program’s impact on students has been significant, with 12,192 baby boomers completing a degree or certificate since 2010–2011.
Plus 50 at Northeast Alabama Community College
Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) currently offers a free computer class. The Plus 50 Computer Class at NACC will introduce students to the basics of computer usage and improve their knowledge and workplace skills. It is a 6-week class that meets once a week on Monday evenings from 5:30 PM-7:30 PM. The new class will begins each semester and they fill quickly. Space is limited. For further information or to register, please contact Sherry Whitten
The Situation: Baby Boomers Need to Update Their Skills and Continue to Work
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the percentage of adults over age 55 in the workforce will grow to 25% in 2020, up from 13 % in 2000.
- During the Great Recession, many baby boomers lost their jobs, assets and retirement funds. They are now working to recoup lost investments and many are re-focusing their lives.
- Baby boomers want to do satisfying work that helps others, and they want to be employed in high-demand fields, like healthcare, social services, and education.
- But, many baby boomers need to update their skills and earn new degrees or certificates from community colleges in order to get hired.
- The term baby boomer describes people born between 1946 and 1964. The “boomers” were part of a post-World War II spike in birth rates and are the first generation reared with television in the home. As a generation that came of age while the nation grappled with civil rights and Vietnam, baby boomers embrace social consciousness and activism.
The Solution: Plus 50 Encore College Completion Program
- Northeast Alabama Community College joined a 3-year initiative called the Plus 50 Encore College Completion Program, which involves 100 colleges reaching 10,000 plus 50 students. The program is led by the American Association of Community Colleges.
- Community colleges are ideally structured to help baby boomers chart their next steps in life because they traditionally cater to the needs of non-traditional students. They can offer plus 50 adults options and benefits: easy access, flexible schedules, long- and short-term programs and a wide range of opportunities.
- Colleges are well-positioned to train plus 50 adults for new careers in healthcare, education and social services. College programs are available that can help baby boomers quickly earn high-value degrees or certificates that improve their marketability in the workforce while improving their communities.
Plus 50's History of Success
This initiative has impacted how community colleges serve students age 50 and over, changed the lives of baby boomers, and sought to refine and replicate its learnings. One of the more interesting elements, is how the program nimbly repositioned itself during its early years. As the Great Recession led thousands of older workers to seek job training at community colleges, the Plus 50 Initiative retooled from a broader approach to focusing heavily on workforce training. That commitment to supporting plus 50 adults seeking job skills and training stuck with the initiative as it focused in its later years on certificate and degree completion.
Questions for Baby Boomers Seeking to Re-Tool for a New Career
- Consider your goals professionally and personally. What would you like to do for a living?
- Would a career in healthcare, social services or education interest you?
- Would you explore a community college program that would allow you to earn a degree or certificate to help you get hired in one of these high-demand fields?
- What finances do you have available to fund going back to school, or will you need to explore financial aid options with the help of the college staff?
- What other commitments do you have that would impact your decision to go to college (e.g. family, job, finances, caregiving)?
For further information, feel free to visit the official Plus 50 Initiative YouTube channel by clicking here. You can also contact Sherry Whitten at 256.638.4418 ext. 2315 or by email at whittens @nacc.edu.
It is the official policy of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees, including the entities under its direction and control, that no person shall be discriminated against on the basis of any impermissible criterion or characteristic, including, but not limited to, race, color, national origin, religion, marital status, disability, gender, age, or any other protected class as defined by federal and state law. (Sources: ACCS Board of Trustees Policies 601.02 – 4/13/16 and 800.00 – 5/10/17)