FRANKENLUST TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Delta College is known as a place where young adults can get a step up in launching a career.
But a new education program at the community college aims to help an entirely different age group: baby boomers.
Delta College has joined the American Association of Community College’s Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national effort to train 10,000 people age 50 and older for new jobs, according to The Saginaw News.
A $15,000 grant is supporting the Delta program to train older workers to work in health care, education and social service fields. People who complete the program can earn degrees and certificates in health-unit coordination, pharmacy technology or medical insurance billing.
“The program design of this grant has multiple goals and objectives all related to having a positive impact on student success, workforce training and employability skills of the 50-plus population, plus some professional development opportunities for our faculty and staff. It is not singularly focused on training a specific number of people,” said Sue Montesi, Delta College Learning Centers & Innovative Programs dean.
The program provides Delta College with $6,000 the first year, $5,000 the second year and $4,000 the third year to support the training effort. Delta College is appointing an advisory board to accomplish the grant goals, Montesi said.
Ed Oberski, director and CEO of Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works, said younger people seeking employment typically are more successful. For those seeking employment, about 88 percent are successful, while about 67 percent of those 55 and older gain employment, he said.
But each group has something to offer, Oberski said.
“The 56-year-old competes against 25-year-old, and each individual brings the advantages they have in the market,” he said.
Anecdotally, he said, the 55-plus age group is more interested in gaining skills to turn into self-employment, accelerated training and higher wages compared to their younger counterparts.
Lindsey Bourassa, Delta College’s LifeLong Learning program development and marketing manager, said Delta officials will use the grant to research how to best support their non-traditional students, and then provide that support.
“They might need different things than 18-year-old,” she said.
Delta College has about 475 students ages 51 and 77 who are in 100 academic programs, and 641 the same age who are in non-academic programs, or not taking classes for a degree.
Delta also recently received a separate $233,333 grant for the Walmart Brighter Futures 2.0 Project to train 350 people with low incomes and low skill levels for “middle-skill” positions in the workforce.
“Our region has been impacted by high unemployment rates, but businesses that are stable and growing are continually informing us that they need skilled workers for the new economy,” said Jean Goodnow, Delta College president. “While there is a growing population segment of adults over 50, providing our older citizens with additional skills and competencies will directly benefit the individuals as well as our workforce and the general economy of our communities.”