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Office of the Vice President

ForImmediate Release January 12, 1999

           Gore Convenes Summit, Announces New Initiatives, 
                       to Help Meet Challenge

Washington DC --Vice President 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 this challenge.

"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 include:

     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% 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 account.

     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 degrees.

     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 this 

      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% more than individuals with only a high school degree 
     (up from 58% 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.