Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release
November 4, 1999


Washington, D. C. -- Vice President Al Gore today announced new efforts by a coalition of business, organized labor, education andgovernment to help ensure that American workers have the skills theyneed to succeed in the 21st century.

Members of the 21st Century Skills Leadership Group presented theVice President with a report embracing a common vision and recommendations for expanding opportunities for adult learning, asking communities across the country to consider these recommendations, anddetailing dozens of specific actions to support their vision.

"America's competitiveness and prosperity will depend increasinglyupon high-skill, high-wage jobs," said Vice President Al Gore. "We mustwork together to help all of our people keep on learning throughouttheir lifetimes and get the skills they need to succeed in the 21stcentury." The 21st Century Skills Leadership Group, a group of leaders frombusiness, organized labor, education, and all levels of government, wasconvened by the Vice President in January. The Vice President asked thegroup to develop a set of recommendations to their peers that will helpensure a prepared and thriving workforce in the next century.

The report presented today, Skills For a New Century: A Blueprintfor Lifelong Learning, outlines the leadership group's vision, recommendations and initial commitments to help American businesses findmore skilled workers and to help all adult Americans acquire the skillsthey need to succeed in a changing economy. The report outlines fivebroad recommendations to provide adults the skills they need and employers the skilled employees needed to remain competitive.

  • Deliver education and training that is tied to high standards,leads to useful credentials and meets labor market needs.
  • Improve access to financial resources for lifetime learning for alladult Americas, including those in low-wage jobs.
  • Promote learning at a time, place, and manner that meets workerneeds and interests, including through the use of learning technologiesto enable learning at home, the workplace, or elsewhere.
  • Encourage and motivate adults to pursue further education andtraining and inform them of resources available to help them do so.
  • Form partnerships among a wide array of organizations andstakeholders to support workforce development and lifelong learning foradults.
Commitments from public and private organizations outlined in thereport include:
  • The American Council on Education (ACE), the AFL-CIO and theNational Association of Manufacturers will expand AEC's "College isPossible" campaign
  • targeted until now primarily at young people -- toinclude an additional focus on encouraging adults to get furthereducation and training.
  • The Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, Harvard University, theNational Council of State Directors of Adult Education, and the NationalCoalition for Literacy will host a national literacy summit in February2000 to create an action plan for improving basic literacy skills in order to help close the skills gap. This summit will also be supportedby the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, American Council on Education,the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Cisco Systems, the Communications Workers of America, the U.S.Departments of Labor and Education, and Arizona State University willdevelop an on-line system to help retired military personnel and othersassess and improve their information technology skills and prepare forthe high-wage, high-skill jobs of the New Economy.
  • The Communications Workers of America, GTE, the National Institutefor Literacy and the U.S. Department of Education will launch a nationaleffort to increase funding, community awareness, and business supportfor adult literacy programs. As part of this effort, 21 million GTEcustomers will be able to donate $1 per month to support literacy intheir community by checking a box on their monthly bill.
  • Based on the leadership group's recommendation, the Vice President also announced a new initiative to assist local communities interestedin developing and implementing community-wide strategies to help adultsget the skills they need to succeed. This effort will supportcommunity-based partnerships involving business, labor, education andgovernment that develop plans focused on clear, objective, measurablegoals for adult learning and skill development across a community.Members of this leadership group will serve on the advisory committee for this effort, encourage the active involvement of their peers, andwill ask communities to consider adopting recommendations outlined inthis report. The federal interagency working group supporting thiseffort will include the National Partnership for Reinventing Governmentand the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Commerce.
Related Resources

Full text of the Report

21st Century Skills Website

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