by Kim Dawley
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs
2/10/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Building on the success of its "Year of the Community College of the Air Force" campaign in 2011, Air Force Materiel Command rolled out a plan for the "Year of Continuing Education" Jan. 1, 2012.
Gen. Donald Hoffman, AFMC commander, introduced the initiative in a Commander's Log sent via email Jan. 6. In it, the general indicated that AFMC's Year of Continuing Education, or YoCE, will still emphasize earning a CCAF degree but will also encourage all the command's Airmen to complete advanced academic degrees or professional certification.
"Continuing education benefits all of us -- Officer, Enlisted and Air Force Civilians -- at every point in our careers," he wrote. "Effective Airmen and Air Force Civilians continue to learn throughout their careers ... whether that means progressing towards your undergraduate or graduate degree, a certification, professional military education, or other developmental goal."
During the Year of the CCAF campaign, more than 700 volunteer mentors sought face-to-face contact with the command's 10,000 enlisted Airmen to encourage CCAF completion. Their efforts resulted in 1,685 graduates at AFMC bases, the most in the history of the command. The number of AFMC's enlisted Airmen with a CCAF degree went from 24 percent to nearly 30 percent in just one year -- a 23 percent increase that far surpassed the command's goal of a 10 percent increase.
With YoCE, the command's goal is to achieve another 10 percent overall increase, this time at all levels of education rather than just CCAF degrees.
Chief Master Sgt. Eric Jaren, AFMC command chief, describes the YoCE campaign as a way to stress the importance of education, despite the many strains on our budgets and time.
"It's not difficult to see changes coming just on the horizon," he said. "Airmen will need to be more organized and trained so they are armed with the necessary skills to find the solutions to reduce excess overhead and support costs in order to apply savings to the Air Force's priorities. Simply said, we need to make the most out of what we have."
Year of Continuing Education is designed to do just that by expanding the aperture to target all 85,000 civilians, enlisted and officers within the command.
"Our command education offices are eager to begin this campaign," said Shelly Owczarski, chief of AFMC's Voluntary Education and Library Programs. "They are working with the base Secretaries of Education to get the word out to all AFMC Airmen on educational opportunities. Our base libraries also stand ready to assist with resources that support our academic programs as well as areas of general interest, to include foreign languages."
As part of the YoCE initiative, base education offices will schedule counseling appointments with enlisted Airmen who are within 20 semester hours of degree completion to discuss a course plan. They will also contact officers who have not been awarded a master's degree to discuss completion options. At those sessions, information on licenses and certificate programs will also be provided. Outreach efforts will target Department of Defense civilians to encourage them to obtain a degree or job-related credential, or to complete PME programs equivalent to their grade.
According to Senior Master Sgt. John Parris, MAJCOM Function Manager for Enlisted Training and MAJCOM Secretary of Education for YoCE, the Secretaries of Education will work with the base education offices to identify the target group for each degree level. They will also ensure Airmen are matched with a motivated peer mentor and help communicate YoCE through various media such as education fairs and newsletters.
"Essentially, YoCE encourages all Airmen to seek additional education regardless of rank," Jaren said. "Whether working towards an undergraduate or master's degree, license or certificate, education is a continuous process."