Drake State Participating in Program to Train Older Workers

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College will soon start a new program to help adults age 50 and over. It's part of a national effort to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education and social services.

“Have an open mind,” says Drake State President Helen McAlpine. “It’s so important because education literally changes lives."

McAlpine encourages older adults to consider the possibilities. The college will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations. The American Association of Community Colleges is sponsoring the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program. McAlpine says it's an opportunity for older workers to get a career makeover.

“I’m over 50 and that’s an interesting time in your life,” says McAlpine. “A lot of people can retire at 50, but many can’t. That’s a great age for having arrived at a point of understanding the work place and having a good sense of wanting to do something to add to their lives and to add to the world."

Drake State will focus on promoting healthcare as a career field, specifically its certified nursing assistant and new medical billing and coding program.

“Because people are living longer and because of all of the discussion about healthcare in our country, it’s pretty obvious that there will be a need for workers,” explains McAlpine. “Let’s tap into a population that is trying to determine what else can I do or what can I do."

The initiative started in 2008. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 89 percent of participating students told an independent evaluator that college workforce training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training. Drake State leaders are hoping for the same success here.

The American Association of Community Colleges designated 38 colleges this year. Drake State was the only Alabama institution. The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2 million grant.

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