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STLCC Teams with MCC-Longview to Expand Plus 50 Job Training Programs

May 11, 2009

St. Louis Community College will be part of a new effort to help workers age 50 and older, as the American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative expands to help baby boomers train for new jobs and sharpen their marketable skills.

With its Plus 50 Initiative program serving as a guide, STLCC will become a learning partner for Metropolitan Community College-Longview. This expansion pairs existing and more experienced Plus 50 colleges with dozens more community colleges that now become "affiliates" of the Plus 50 Initiative. STLCC was among the first 15 community colleges chosen in 2008 to participate in the initiative.

STLCC and the Kansas City-based community college share regional concerns and have similar economic and educational demographics that make them ideal partners.

"Our partnership with a regionally-located community college will bolster progressive practices in retraining for our Plus 50 students across the state," said Heather Ellison, director of STLCC’s Plus 50 program.

Baby boomers may face the steepest odds of any unemployed workers in the job market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, laid-off workers over the age of 50 were out of work for 22.2 weeks, compared with 16.2 weeks for younger workers. When they land jobs, baby boomers typically experience a more significant drop in earnings than their younger counterparts.

The Plus 50 Initiative focuses on learning, training and career development, and volunteering. The three-year project is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges with a $3.2 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies.

For 89 years, the AACC has been the leading advocate for the nation’s community colleges, which currently number more than 1,177 and serve close to 12 million students annually. Its membership comprises 90 percent of all public two-year colleges – the largest, most accessible, most diverse sector of U.S. higher education. As institutions committed to access, community service and lifelong learning, community colleges have long-focused on the needs of adults who are already in the work force, many of whom are seeking new skills and knowledge for changes in their lives and careers.