Black River Technical College was recently selected to join a national program designed to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in healthcare, education, and social services. The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges.
Under the direction of Patti Blaxton, Director of Corporate and Community Education on the Pocahontas campus of BRTC, 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 in-demand occupations that give back to the community.
“We are extremely pleased to have been selected,” said BRTC President Wayne Hatcher. “The Plus 50 student cohort was hard hit by the recession, and many are now working to recoup lost investments and re-focus their lives. They need to upgrade their skills and earn new degrees or certificates from community colleges in order to get a job. BRTC is ideally structured to offer plus 50 adults options and benefits, including easy and affordable access, flexible schedules, and long-and short-term programs.”
In accordance with the grant application developed by Blaxton, with assistance from VP for Development Dr. Jan Ziegler, BRTC’s three-year program will strengthen support services for Plus 50 students in order to ensure more completers in degree and certificate programs, especially in the fields of health care. At BRTC, these programs are CNA, LPN, and RN; Dietetics and Dietary Management; Health Information, Medical Coding and Medical Transcription; Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic; and Phlebotomy and Respiratory Care Technician. These services the grant will provide include support in orientation, advising, and counseling, financial aid assistance, and computer technology skills building. In addition, according to Blaxton, Plus 50 students will have access to math and English refresher courses and to job search and interview skills.
“We already offer many programs and services for adults over 50 years,” Blaxton noted, “but this grant will allow us to do even more at low cost to the student.”
In addition to grant funds, BRTC and the other ten participating colleges gain access to thousands of dollars in marketing materials, such as toolkits and training webinars to make the work of reaching out to students age 50 and over easier. They will 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 services,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC.
The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a grant over three years to the AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.
For more information, contact Blaxton at 870-248-4000 EXT 4181.