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Vice President Gore Leads Training Initiatives for the 21st Century

By Karen Mantyla, CDE

January 12, 1999

Who said there is no job security anymore? Not in the traditional sense, thatís for sure. "Skills will be the new source of security for workers in the 21st Century," said Vice President Al Gore as he convened a summit today on "21st Century Skills for 21st Century Jobs." Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and Secretary of Commerce William Daley also participated.

The Vice Presidentís Summit originated from George Washington University in Washington, DC and was broadcast via satellite to over 1,000 locations throughout the United States. This forum of business, labor, government, academic leaders and learners exchanged ideas and new initiatives to foster the growth and development of lifelong learning for all Americans. There was even a way to attend if you could not leave your desk! The forum was available by cybercast and allowed millions of people to access the information and ideas exchanged across the country.

"Americaís competitiveness and the prosperity of our people in a changing economy depend increasingly on high-skill, high-wage jobs," said Vice President Gore. "Realizing our potential will require investing in education and learning for all of our people throughout their lifetimes."

Access to Learning Is the Goal

The Vice President had some hard facts and new initiatives to help all Americans acquire new skills and knowledge. "What we know today will not be adequate for meeting the challenges for tomorrow," he said. "Lifelong learning is more than just a phrase. Seventy-five percent of the workers today will most likely be working in the year 2010." What they will need is the ability to acquire new knowledge and skills for job requirements that have not yet been defined, he explained. Access to learning must be the goal in order to provide equal learning opportunities for everyone.

One fifth of the manufacturers today canít expand because employees donít have the right skills. However, for every 10% invested in employee education, business and industry sees an 8.6% productivity gain! Thatís 3 times the amount of usual return on capital investments.

Investing in lifelong learning will help Americans and provide a strategic resource of skilled workers to meet the ever-changing business challenges and priorities. And, springboard to increased profitability and the ability to be truly competitive. If one company invests in its employees through skill development and education and the other doesnít, it becomes pretty obvious as to which one will achieve greater success.

Tax Credit and Executive Memorandum Announced

Vice President Gore announced a 10 percent tax credit for those employers who provide Basic Education and Literacy programs in their organizations, and which also include English as a 2nd Language.

He also announced that an Executive Memorandum was being written focusing on job skills in the federal workforce with the use of technologies. We are going to reinvent the learning environment to ensure that the workforce receives the skills training they need, when and where they need it, he said.

Throughout the summit, leaders and learners alike stressed the fact that no one can do this alone. Partnerships between government, industry and academia must be formed and strengthened on a continuous basis. Creative ways of sharing skills, knowledge and methods can be the cornerstone to making it all happen. Labor leaders John Sweeney, President of the AFLCIO, and George Becker, President of the Steelworkers Union, unanimously approved the allocation of time and money dedicated to preparing workers to effectively meet the challenges and opportunities in the 21st century.

The old saying, "knowledge is power" is not old. Itís the mantra for the 21st century.

About the Author

Karen Mantyla, CDE, a member of the Federal Communicators Network, is Editor of Distance Learning News, the Official Publication of the Federal Government Distance Learning Association. You may reach her at


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