Vice President Gore Announces New Efforts to
Prepare America's Workers, Employers for the 21st Century
Gore convened a Summit on "21st Century Skills for 21st Century
Jobs" a national forum organized to help working Americans get
the skills they need to succeed and to ensure employers get
the skilled workers they need to stay competitive.
"America's competitiveness and the prosperity of our people
in a changing economy depend increasingly on high-skill, high-wage
jobs," said Vice President Gore, who, along with Labor Secretary
Alexis Herman, Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Small Business
Administrator Aida Alvarez, invited business and education leaders,
federal, state and local officials, labor unions, and communities
across the nation to Washington to discuss strategies for addressing
"Realizing our potential will require investing in education
and learning for all of our people throughout their lifetimes."
At the Summit, which involved tens of thousands of people satellite
in more than 800 communities across the nation, the Vice President
announced several steps to address this challenge. These steps
An Estimated $60 Million Plan to Help Train American
Workers for High-skill Jobs in Industries Facing Skill Shortages.
The Vice President announced a new $60 million plan to help
regional partnerships identify skill needs in shortage areas,
design training curricula to upgrade the skills of incumbent
and dislocated workers, provide training for workers to prepare
them for these jobs, and support the planning and policy efforts
of local business-led boards established under the recently
enacted Workforce Investment Act. These partnerships would be
led by businesses working with other partners, including institutions
of higher education, labor unions, and workforce investment
boards. The plans call for financing these efforts through existing
funding and funds generated by the $500 fee on employers for
petitions filed under the H-1B program.
More Worker Scholarships for the 21st Century. Citing
a new administration report describing the benefit of education
and training for employees and employers, the Vice President
called for more employers to cover the costs of their employees'
education and proposed an expansion and extension of Section
127 of the tax code to help make this possible. This proposal
will assure that employees can receive educational benefits
from their employers tax-free -- whether the employee is taking
undergraduate or graduate courses.
A new tax credit to encourage literacy programs at the
workplace. The Vice President proposed a new tax credit to encourage
employers to provide literacy, English-as-a-Second Language,
and basic education programs for their employees. Under this
proposal, businesses could get a 10 percent income tax credit
for these kinds of programs with a maximum credit of up to $525
per participating employee. An alarming number of American adults
-- 44 million according to the National Adult Literacy study
-- struggle with a job application, cannot read to their children,
or are left on welfare rolls because they lack basic skills.
Some are immigrants who face long waiting lists in many cities
for English-as-a-Second Language courses. This new tax credit
will help deploy the resources of businesses to make sure those
in greatest need don't get left behind.
A challenge to help every adult American finance postsecondary
education and training throughout their lifetime and a new advisory
committee of outside experts and leaders to develop options
for meeting this challenge. Saying that the nation was crossing
into a new economic frontier -- where knowledge has become our
strategic resource and learning our strategic skill -- the Vice
President said that every American should have a mechanism to
finance their postsecondary education and training throughout
their lifetime. To this end, President Clinton and he will create
an advisory committee of outside leaders and experts that will
analyze such options as low-income loans, grants, tax incentives,
or other ways to pay for adults to continue their education.
The Vice President suggested exploring new ways to encourage
Americans to pool their own savings, contributions from their
employers, and possibly federal funds to pay for lifetime learning.
Among other ideas the Vice President wants to be considered
to accomplish this goal is the creation of a lifetime learning
Helping more working Americans and dislocated workers
get access to college aid. To help more working Americans and
dislocated workers benefit from federal aid to college, the
Vice President announced that is calling on the Secretary of
Education to remind every institution of higher education of
the flexibility to allow dislocated workers to receive Pell
Grants (even if their income the previous year would otherwise
make them ineligible) and to encourage them to use this discretion
to help dislocated workers go back to school and obtain the
retraining they need. The Vice President also called on the
Secretary of Education to encourage each institution of higher
education to help make adults aware that Pell Grants may be
used by working adults in part-time programs leading toward
Prestigious New Award from the President and Vice President
for High Skills Communities that invest effectively in raising
the skills of adults across the community. Up to ten communities
each year would receive a national award from the President
and Vice President for achieving concrete results in improving
the skills of their adult workforce and will receive financial
support to help other communities learn from their efforts.
Modeled after the Baldrige Award, this award will require applicants
to go through a rigorous self-assessment to identify needs in
their community and develop additional strategies for improving
adult literacy and workforce skills.
Bringing together a new leadership group of top CEOs,
college presidents, labor union leaders, cabinet members, and
other public officials to help working Americans develop the
skills they need for career success and economic security. This
leadership group will develop recommendations for how employers,
institutions of higher education, labor unions, local and state
governments, and entire communities can invest -- individually
and working together -- in workforce skills and learning. The
group will also develop principles to help identify exceptional
programs and partnerships to upgrade the skills of adults and
publicize them in ways that can help others learn and build
on their successes. Finally, the group will develop plans for
informational and marketing campaigns that could be used by
the private sector and State and local governments to encourage
adults to pursue ongoing education and training.
Launching new Internet services -- America's Learning
eXchange (ALX) -- to provide easy access to information about
available education and training opportunities and resources.
Individual Americans will be able to use this new Internet service
like an electronic "yellow pages" to search for courses, seminars,
workshops, or training programs and providers that best meet
their needs. They will also be able to access consumer information
about jobs, skills required, employment trends and institutions
to help them make informed choices about the training and education
they need. Employers will be able to locate training packages
and providers that can meet training specifications. Finally,
it will be able to provide personalized information on the different
kinds and likely amounts of public and private financial assistance
available to support an individuals' lifelong learning.
New Executive Order to help the federal government become
a model user of technology for training. Later today, the President
will sign an Executive Order that encourages innovative use
of technology for training in federal agencies, creates a Task
Force to provide leadership within the Federal government on
the effective use of training technology, and ensures that all
federal agencies include training technology as a fundamental
part of their planning. OPM Director Janice Lachance will oversee
Releasing a new Administration report showing the pay-off
of investing in education and training. This new report finds
that eight of the ten fastest growing jobs in the next decade
require college education or moderate to long-term training.
The report also linked education to job security, finding that
adults with higher levels of education are less likely to be
unemployed and are more likely to find reemployment quickly
if they are displaced. Moreover, dislocated workers with an
associate's degree or higher found new jobs at a higher average
pay than the jobs they lost. Finally, the report highlighted
data showing that increased education and training is linked
to higher employee wages and employer productivity, with college
graduates earning on average 77 percent more than individuals
with only a high school degree (up from 58 percent in 1975).
But the report suggested that not enough adult Americans benefit
from these investments, especially those in greatest need --
including younger adults, the elderly, and the less educated,
and outlined several key challenges that need to be addressed.
The report is from the Departments of Commerce, Labor, Education
-- as well as the Small Business Administration and National
Institute for Literacy.
U.S. Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation : WASHINGTON, Jan.
12 /U.S. Newswire/ [Copyright 1999, Comtex]