Friday, December 7, 2007

AARP and Rio Salado College partner for 50+ Worker

(Surprise, AZ) -- Earlier this year, AARP Arizona and Rio Salado College announced a joint effort to offer a four-part pilot series of classes on 50+ worker issues that are to be launched at the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center in Surprise.

On Tuesday, December 11, AARP and Rio Salado Community College officials will host a forum for local area employers in which they will unveil the pilot series of 50+ Worker curriculum that is set to launch at the College in March. The curriculum will be divided into two parts, one program will be offered to employers who are interested in learning more about issues affecting the 50+ workforce. The second part will be specific classes that are tailored to 50+ workers who are interested in retooling their skills or looking to re-career. The classes will be offered on-line or in a traditional classroom setting.

AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell believes the timing for the launch of the new curriculum is on target with demographic shifts which are beginning to take place in today’s workforce. “There are three important trends that are starting to have a dramatic impact on the future of our country’s workforce,” said Mitchell. “Number one - our workforce is aging. Number two - labor shortages are projected in a growing number of economic sectors and number three - many workers are intending to continue to work beyond their traditional retirement age. All of this points to the importance of keeping and attracting 50+ workers.”

It’s estimated that over 34 percent of the U.S. workforce will be 50 and over by 2012. “As more baby boomers turn 60, attracting and retaining skilled workers will become critical if employers want to retain a competitive edge,” Mitchell added.

In AARP’s landmark report, The Business Case for Workers Age 50+, it was found that 58% of human resource managers said it is more difficult today than it was five years ago to find qualified job applicants. More than half also said that their companies are likely to face a shortage of qualified workers within the next five years.

“It’s our responsibility as a community college to address local workforce needs,” said Todd Aakhus, Director of the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center. “One of the fastest growing segments of community college education is non-credit classes like workforce training. These classes focus on contemporary issues that are relevant to our local populations. One of the fastest growing demographics in community college education is our older students and we want to be responsive and address their needs.”

The employer breakfast forum hosted by AARP and Rio Salado College will be held on Tuesday, December 11 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Rio Salado College, 12535 Smokey Drive in Surprise.

“At the forum, AARP and Rio Salado College want to help employers understand that they will have to address aging, from a labor-force perspective and from a consumer perspective because these trends cannot be ignored.” Mitchell added. “At the same time, AARP and Rio Salado College want to provide resources, information and learning opportunities to help them and 50+ workers meet their employment goals.”

AARP has over 848,000 members in Arizona. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our Web site, AARP Foundation is our affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rio Salado, the largest of the Maricopa Community Colleges in terms of headcount, serves more than 48,000 credit students and an additional 14,000 non-credit students annually. Known as “the college within everyone’s reach ™,” Rio Salado focuses on general education and courses for university transfer, applied programs for workforce development, and adult basic education. Popular learning formats include online classes, on-site classes at major Valley employers, and accelerated courses and programs.