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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 5, 1998
                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

More than three years ago, I proposed my G.I. Bill for America's Workers to reform our employment and training system for the 21st-century economy. Today, I am very pleased that the Senate passed -- with overwhelming bipartisan support -- legislation that incorporates the principles articulated in my original proposal. This legislation reforms our job training system so that it works better for America's workers and is more responsive to today's rapidly changing economy. I particularly thank Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, DeWine, and Wellstone for their hard work at getting this legislation passed.

This legislation will fundamentally reform our workforce development system by empowering Americans to gain new skills with a simple skill grant. It also consolidates the tangle of training programs; creates a network of One-Stop Career Centers; increases accountability to ensure results; allows States and communities to tailor programs to locally determined needs; and ensures that business, labor, and community organizations are full partners in system design and quality assurance. It targets vocational and adult education funds to educational agencies and institutions with the greatest need, and to activities that promote program quality. It improves the vocational rehabilitation program by streamlining eligibility determination, improving State planning, and strengthening program accountability. And it includes the Youth Opportunity Areas initiative -- which was funded in last year's appropriations process -- that will create jobs and opportunity for out-of-school youth in high-poverty areas.

While I have outstanding concerns with both the Senate- and House-passed versions of this legislation, I am confident our differences can be resolved quickly in conference. I urge Congress to continue to work in a bipartisan manner and finish the job of reforming our job training system by early this summer.

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