Ten metro-area MnSCU institutions begin initiative to educate older workers

Posted: June 4, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Ten MnSCU institutions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are collaborating to develop new programs for older workers who want to retrain, update their job skills or become entrepreneurs.

“Many baby boomers expect to work past retirement age and maintain active, productive lives long into retirement,” said Mary McKee, vice president of continuing education and customized training at Century College. “Through this regional partnership, known as Learners Over 50, the continuing education and customized training units at 10 participating colleges will develop new training programs for older workers and offer these programs in multiple locations across the metro area.”

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, baby boomers are likely to face the steepest odds of any unemployed workers in today’s job market. In 2008, laid-off workers over age 50 were out of work for 22.2 weeks, compared with 16.2 weeks for younger workers. When they do land new jobs or return to work after retiring, their wages often are significantly lower. These factors adversely affect opportunities for the state’s most experienced employees to contribute to Minnesota’s economic vitality.

Funded by a $10,000 grant from the American Association of Community Colleges and a $75,000 innovation grant from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the Learners Over 50 partnership includes an expansion of the American Association of Community Colleges
Plus 50 initiative. Century College, has been designated a “Mentor College” for its Plus 50 programs by the community college association.

The affiliate colleges involved in the initiative are Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Anoka Technical College, Dakota County Technical College, Hennepin Technical College, Inver Hills Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, North Hennepin Community College and Saint Paul College.

During the next six months, the colleges will develop at least five new programs. Initially, the programs will be offered at various Twin Cities colleges. Eventually, the programs will be offered by system institutions throughout the state.

New program topics under consideration include career transition and preparation, administrative assistant, entrepreneurship, pharmacy technician and manufacturing mentor. Two of the programs, administrative assistant and pharmacy technician, will be offered online.

“This is a good example of collaboration among our system’s institutions,” said Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “Our customized training and continuing education units can tap into a rich network of instructors, technology and equipment to quickly meet the changing needs of business, industry and Minnesota’s taxpayers.”