In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Center for Lifelong Learning is conducting a study called “Reinvesting in the Third Age”, which will investigate how to promote lifelong education for older adults and to determine the best practices for colleges attempting to meet the needs of older adults. There are now two new initiatives and a new study that could impact older adult learning in colleges.
The first initiative is the result of a collaboration between the MetLife Foundation and CivicVentures. The MetLife Foundation will be providing $25,000 to a total of 10 community colleges to “develop a wide range of innovative initiatives designed to match boomers' experience, skills and interests to "encore careers" in critical service fields.” Their press release states that many older adults want to get a job that will benefit their community and that community colleges are not currently providing programs that will train older adults for these jobs. These service related jobs include: teaching jobs, gerontology jobs, and jobs in nonprofits.
The new study is a 2007 AARP study, “The Role of Community Colleges in an Aging Society”, by Linda Wiener. This study found that “Older adult education has been somewhat neglected in academia. Despite the existence of nearly 1,200 community colleges in the U.S. today, few formally promote or support senior focused programs.” (p. 3). The study found that few community colleges have targeted older adults for leisure programs or job retraining programs. This represents a critical gap in community college course offerings for people 50+ , since “the majority of Baby Boomers report they intend to delay retirement, opting instead to stay in the work force in their current positions, re-skill for current or future jobs, or pursue new employment opportunities” (p. 4). The author considers that this gap represents a great opportunity for community colleges in the future.
The second initiative (found via the Kept-Up Academic Librarian blog), is a $3.2 million dollar grant program funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and administered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The AACC will choose 15 colleges to participate in this project. The goals of this initiative include "... expanded enrollment among Americans ages 50 and older, and the creation of programs to boost access and success for these students".
It will be interesting to see what successful educational programs and marketing strategies are created as a result of these grants. Libraries could use this information to increase their own outreach to older adults. Librarians will also need to help older adult students to find the information that they need for career courses or lifelong learning courses. In addition, it may be possible for public libraries to form partnerships with local community colleges to provide programs or services for older adults.