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Green River joins project to train 10,000 older workers for new jobs

Green River Community College was recently chosen to join the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national effort to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education and social services.

The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The college will receive $15,000 and technical support for curriculum development and student outreach over the next two years.

The college will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations that give back to the community. With many adults age 50 and over out of work or seeking to transition to a new career, the program offers skill updates and career makeovers for baby boomers.

"More and more people over the age of 50 are coming back to school to learn new skills that will help them in the workplace," said Green River President Eileen Ely. "We welcome people of all ages into our classrooms. We value their experiences as it helps provide depth and diversity that will only serve to benefit all of our students."

Green River Community College will enhance and modify its medical office curricula to meet the changes in healthcare as a result of the new ICD-10 classifications and the Affordable Care Act. These changes will be made for the Medical Office Assistant degree which includes the focus areas of front office, third-party reimbursement (billing, coding, and insurance), and medical transcription. The Medical Office Manager and the Medical Transcription certificates will also be updated to reflect these changes.

"The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program will enable us to have the necessary resources and opportunities to provide a more focused and supportive learning environment for students," said Green River Business Education faculty and grant lead Lea Ann Simpson. "With the high demand for qualified individuals for the healthcare field amongst local businesses, this grant will help us to meet this need."

The 38 colleges chosen for the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program competed for the grant award by going through a nationwide selection process. They join 62 institutions selected in previous years. Grays Harbor College was the only other Washington college to be selected for the award. Since 2008, AACC and its network of Plus 50 Initiative colleges have supported baby boomers coming to college and helped them prepare for new careers. It's a program that works. Eighty-nine percent of students participating in AACC's Plus 50 Initiative told an independent evaluator that college workforce training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2-million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust.

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