A new UCLA Extension initiative is aiming to redefine the phrase “college-age” through a specific audience ““ baby boomers.
The extension announced Thursday its plans to help create curriculum for an online education program for boomers. The program is being implemented in partnership with Encore Career Institute, a new Web-based company that aims to provide resources to older members of the workforce who are continuing to seek or retain jobs at their age.
The organization was conceptualized by the Creative Artists Agency and the Sherry Lansing Foundation, who contacted UCLA Extension after Encore’s current director, Steve Poizner, decided to launch the company, Poizner said.
Cathy Sandeen, dean of UCLA Extension, said that the goals of Encore overlap greatly with those of UCLA Extension. The partnership will provide resources to a uniquely gifted population that some employers overlook, she said.
“A post-retirement career, or a second career, will be in demand for many years to come,” Sandeen said. “There are new jobs emerging: patient advocates … green technology and education. There is a huge need for people to contribute in different ways.”
Further, some baby boomers need to continue working for economical reasons because they cannot afford to retire, Poizner said. Others may hope to switch careers but lack resources to help them be competitive applicants in certain fields, he added.
“If all 77 million boomers retire at the same age, there would be a huge workforce shortage,” Sandeen said. “I think it’s really helpful for us to employ the boomers in new ways.”
Poizner said employers today often unfairly favor younger generations because some feel younger people are more up-to-date and less costly to hire. However, the skill set boomers hold is also important to new, emerging industries, he added.
“We go with a brilliant mission to change the way employers think of people who are older,” Poizner said. “They have a lot to offer ““ wisdom and experience ““ and we need to alter misconceptions of what people feel boomers can offer to a company.”
The counseling and certificate program allows students to complete interest surveys and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to help them find a career that would best fit their personality, Sandeen said.
“A lot of work will be done to survey employers and do research for the best programs to start with,” she said. “Specific job training will help boomers transition from one career to another so that students can succeed in getting a job in the marketplace today.”
UCLA Extension, which already has a large library of curriculum, will contribute parts of its current program to the collaborative mission. According to a press release Thursday, it will further work to develop new courses, which will be offered through Encore.
The certificate program will begin enrollment in fall 2012.