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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 28, 1999
                         CLOSING THE SKILLS GAP: 

                            January 28, 1999                             |

Today, President Clinton Announces A $965 Million Three-Part Initiative To Close America's Skills Gap. Last year, President Clinton signed the Workforce Investment Act transforming the job training system by streamlining services and empowering workers with a simple skills grant so that they can choose the training they need. However, more work needs to be done because America still faces a skills gap. Today, President Clinton is announcing that his FY2000 budget includes a $965 million three-part initiative to address the skills gap.

The President's Budget Includes a Comprehensive Package to Help Us Educate and Train American Workers to Fill the Jobs of the 21st Century. This comprehensive strategy includes:

  1. A $190 Million Increase for Adult Education And Family Literacy Initiative. Today, 44 million adults struggle with a job application, cannot read to their children, or cannot fully participate in our economic and civic life because they lack basic skills or English proficiency. The President's initiative provides:
         $95 million -- or 25 percent -- more for adult education 
         grants and challenges state and local governments to join 
         with us to raise program quality.

         $70 million for an English literacy/civics initiative;

         $20 million to help develop technology for adult learners;

         New 10% tax credit to employers who establish certain 
         workplace literacy programs; and

         New initiative to mobilize state and local communities to
         implement strategies to promote adult education and lifelong

2. A $368 Million Increase for Universal Re-employment Initiative.

     The President's FY2000 budget makes a five-year commitment to 
     our Nation's reformed job training system.  Specifically, 
     President Clinton proposes to put us on a path that ensures 
     that within five years:

         All displaced workers will receive the job training they 
         want and need -- after nearly tripling funding for dislocated 
         workers since 1993, initiative makes first-year commitment of 
         additional $190 million;

         All people who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own 
         will get the re-employment services -- e.g., job search 
         assistance -- they need; and

         All Americans will have access to One-Stop Career Centers,
         including a nationwide toll-free telephone system so that all
         workers will be able to find out what services are available 
         and where they can go to receive them; job search information 
         at 4,000 Community-Based Organizations; 100 mobile One-Stop 
         Career Centers; and increased access for the disabled and the 

3. A $405 Million Increase for Youth Employment Initiative. The

     unemployment rate among African American teens is 6.5 times higher
     than the national average.  In addition to an increase in JobCorps 
     and the $250 million for the new Youth Opportunity Areas, the 
     initiative includes:

         75-percent increase in YouthBuild, from $42.5 million to 
         $75 million.

         New $100 million "Right-Track" Partnership initiative to 
         help lower drop-out rates;

         Doubles the funding for GEAR UP -- which helps mentor 
         children and prepare them for college -- from $120 million 
         to $240 million;

         New $50 million initiative to help link Empowerment Zones 
         and Enterprise Communities (EZ/ECs) to their broader 
         metropolitan regional economies in order to increase the 
         employment of disadvantaged youth; and

         $65 million more to prepare disadvantaged youth for success 
         in college, including $30 million increase in outreach, 
         counseling, and educational support through TRIO program, 
         and new $35 million initiative to help disadvantaged students 
         stay in college.