SKILLS FOR A NEW CENTURY:
A BLUEPRINT FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
As we enter the new century, preparing the nation's workforce is more important than ever before. The impact of globalization is constant and permanent. Knowledge is growing exponentially, and changes -- technological and otherwise -- will accelerate. Lifelong learning is imperative, and the rewards are likely to be great.
This exciting new time demands new skills and knowledge, but many Americans are not fully able to participate in our new economy. As a nation, we are not investing sufficiently in education and training. Employers report difficulty finding the skilled workers that they need. Realizing America's potential in the next century will require investments in education and learning for all Americans throughout their lifetimes. Students must graduate from high school and college prepared to navigate this constantly and rapidly changing time. They must be ready for a lifetime of learning.
Earlier this year, Vice President Gore convened a group of key leaders from business, organized labor, education, and all levels of government. He asked the group to synthesize current thinking and promising practices on workforce learning, and to issue recommendations for how the sectors it represents can help Americans continuously acquire the skills they need for the 21st century workplace. This document is the result.
We recognize that workforce learning is already receiving widespread attention from business, organized labor, educators, and others. Many more exciting things are happening across the country than could possibly be included here. Employers spend an estimated $60 billion annually on education, training, and upgrading skills of their employees. Unions are working with employers to expand education benefits for workers and their families through collective bargaining. Public institutions and government programs invest billions. Individuals are investing in skills for lifelong employability. But as changes accelerate and require ever-higher skill levels, continuous workforce learning is becoming a more critical priority.
This challenge is too large and too complex to be met by any single stakeholder. If we want all adults -- including the 40 million with low basic skill -- to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as workers, parents, and citizens, then we must work together to create a culture of lifelong learning for all Americans. We envision a 21st century in which American employers and employees will have the skills they need to prosper, and in which integrated partnerships among stakeholders create the learning environments and expectations necessary to continuously transform the workforce. Partnerships must include students, workers, educators, employers, unions, and government and occur at all levels -- local, state, regional, and national. Together we must make learning accessible, affordable, relevant, and exciting. Only through collective efforts, integrated actions, and new thinking can we meet this challenge.
We hope this document will accelerate current momentum around transforming the workforce and serve as a catalyst to action that will spur colleagues not yet committed to this issue to get involved. Our intent is to provide a "strategic start" toward changes in workforce preparation and to model the types of partnerships that we believe are so important. The commitments on the following pages of actions we will take in the coming year will become increasingly significant as they progress -- and as new partners join these efforts.
This conclusion leads to the Leadership Group's overarching recommendation:
Initiate new partnerships and collaborations among stakeholders from which a host of workforce development efforts can be launched.
As a critical step toward achieving our vision, we commit in the coming year to encouraging interested communities across the country to bring together key stakeholders to develop and implement local strategies for achieving the scale and pace of lifelong learning necessary in the 21st century. We will inform our local affiliates in participating communities of this opportunity and encourage their active involvement. This includes asking our local affiliates to adopt the recommendations on the following pages as appropriate locally.
We propose four key workforce learning goals to move America forward.
- Deliver education, training, and learning that are tied to high standards, lead to useful credentials, and meet labor market needs.
- Improve access to financial resources for lifetime learning for all Americans, including those in low-wage jobs.
- Promote learning at a time and place, and in manner that meet workers' needs and interests.
- Increase awareness and motivation to participate in education, training, and learning.
Deliver education, training, and learning that are tied to high standards, lead to useful credentials, and meet labor market needs.
Investments in education and training by students, employees, employers, and all levels of government must result in Americans who have the skills needed to meet the skill requirements of their current jobs -- and to prepare for future jobs. Our K-12 education system must produce the high levels of performance that students need to be successful lifelong learners and responsible citizens. Education and training programs must relate directly to skill needs, and lead to credentials that employers value. Credentials will have an impact if employers use them in hiring and promotion decisions and if unions encourage their members to earn them. Changing skill needs require colleges and other education and training providers to continually modify and upgrade their programs based on input from local employers and unions.
We recommend the following action steps to help meet this goal.
- Incorporate skills of a high-performance workplace into workforce development curricula. These skills -- such as those recommended by the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) and skill standards for specific jobs -- include the following: basic skills, thinking skills, problem-solving skills, resource management, interpersonal skills, information analysis, understanding systems, and using new technologies.
- Promote a skills-based, portable documentation process that allows individuals to maintain a record of acquired skills and gives employers a concrete way to measure qualifications.
- Support the use of industry-endorsed, skill-based certifications now being finalized by the National Skill Standards Board, and support nationally-validated industry standards that include academic, workplace readiness, and occupationally-specific standards in the design and implementation of all workforce development initiatives.
- Support the development of a common assessment tool that is based on the cross-cutting skills identified by the voluntary industry-led partnerships of the National Skills Standards process.
- Expand joint labor-management education and training programs, such as registered apprenticeships, that provide employees with skills most valued in the local labor market.
- Participate actively on state and local Workforce Investment Boards.
- Promote education, training, and learning as key tools for local and regional economic development.
- Open corporate universities to a wider audience, including teachers, administrators, and school counselors.
- Increase the training received by front-line employees.
- Organize state and local advisory panels of employers to guide the development of curricula for work-related programs of study in secondary, post-secondary, and second chance programs.
- AT&T will strengthen its support of the development of an Academy of Information Technology, a 9th through 12th grade curriculum aligned with the relevant academic, employment, and workplace standards. The academy, being developed by the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), will be incorporated into existing high school programs; curriculum will be delivered via CD-ROM, and teachers will receive professional development. CORD will be the primary developer of curriculum, courses, and professional development activity; NAF will build and sustain the nationwide network of academies.
- The National Association of Manufacturers will encourage its training partner, General Physics, to design new curricula reflecting new national occupational skill standards.
- The National Alliance of Business will work with a growing network of local business-led coalitions and workforce investment boards to advocate that all publicly-funded training providers in the community meet industry standards. The Alliance will also work with employers to increase the available information about skill requirements in the workplace that can be used by local workforce investment systems.
- The Alliance for Employee Growth and Development, (AT&T/Lucent Technologies/Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) will volunteer to participate in the development of any future national skills standards initiative and include the results in future course design, will continue to deliver SCANS-related courses, and will map future course designs for SCANS and other skill standards.
- The Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (CWA) will contact all CWA training programs and other labor-management programs to encourage them to develop, integrate, and map SCANS skills into their various training initiatives.
- Cisco Systems will map out and integrate high-performance workplace skills (i.e. SCANS skills) into its workforce development program for high schools, colleges, and workforce development programs, the Cisco Networking Academy.
- Through a League for Innovation project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Central Piedmont Community College and other selected community colleges will establish new standards for the community college sector, including identifying and assessing learning outcomes of 21st century skills.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will encourage state and local chambers to work with the workforce development boards and other workforce development to define job-specific skills and training strategies to meet labor and skills shortages.
- The American Association of Community Colleges will encourage the development of local business advisory councils to build connections with community colleges and develop occupational curricula, and will enhance existing partnerships with business and industry to provide relevant, quality training programs.
- The American Council on Education will produce a new generation of GED Tests that reflect the major and lasting academic outcomes of a high school education, with an increased emphasis on the demands of the workplace and higher education.
- The Business Coalition for Workforce Development, through which national business organizations collectively have an extensive record of initiatives for workforce investments and lifelong learning, will expand its efforts to promote employer leadership in shaping new policies for comprehensive state and local workforce investment systems that will be set up in partnership with local officials. The advantages to both businesses and job seekers will be policies that ensure services are demand-driven, competency-based, and results-oriented.
- State Farm Insurance Companies will extend and increase its sponsoring of participants in the Illinois State InfoTech program. Dialogue between the partners will result in the preparation of workers for high-quality professional information technology careers and help respond to the growing shortage of technology workers.
- AT&T will strengthen its mutually-beneficial partnership, the "E-Alliance" with Ohio State University, Miami University of Ohio, Steven's Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina A&T University to collaboratively develop "networking" skills and knowledge in the IT industry and among university graduates. AT&T will continue to provide financial and technical resources to assist the universities in developing networking management curricula and provide internships, cooperative education, distance learning, and employment opportunities for students.
- The National Association of Manufacturers will continue to urge its members to spend at least three percent of payroll on education and training for employees.
- Miami-Dade Community College will expand its partnership with business and industry to develop cooperative education internships that support work-based learning and create partnership programs for faculty to shadow employees who are assigned to critical jobs.
- The California Community Colleges will increase the number of degrees and certificates conferred annually from 80,000 to 110,000.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will inform its members through the Chamber's website and newsletters of the benefits to business of a skills-based portable documentation process that allows workers to maintain a record of acquired skills and that gives employers a concrete level of assurance of a qualified workforce.
- The American Federation of Teachers will use its website and publications to promote professional development and encourage teachers to pursue National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
- The American Council on Education will strengthen its civilian and military registries to provide lifelong learning transcripts for qualified Americans.
- The AFL-CIO will post information on its website about how to establish joint labor-management education and training funds, including sample contract language.
- AT&T will continue to actively promote Tek.Xam, a new standardized certification of technological literacy and problem-solving skills developed by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges for liberal arts students.
- Empire State College will include skills certification and assessment of prior learning in its transcript and certification center.
- The Business Roundtable will extend its commitment to state-level education reform focused on achieving world-class performance in our schools.
- The National League of Cities will highlight ways for local government to integrate education and training into economic development strategies, including publishing articles in Nation's Cities Weekly.
- The National Retail Federation and the National Institute for Literacy will partner to pilot a training curriculum in several states through which businesses and trainers will use Equipped for the Future (EFF) standards and retail skill standards for training to prepare welfare recipients for work.
Improve access to financial resources for lifetime learning for all Americans, including those in low-wage jobs.
All Americans must have access to financial resources for education and training, including knowledge about how to apply for available resources. Too often students and employees do not know where to go or how to apply for assistance.
We recommend the following action steps to help meet this goal.
- Encourage employers to increase employees' continuous learning by communicating the benefits, offering rewards and incentives, and devoting resources to the most effective education and training programs.
- Work to get greater use of employer tuition assistance plans and expand the use of tax incentives for training and education, such as:
- Section 127 (which allows employees to exclude up to $5,250 annually in employer-provided tuition assistance for non-job-related education);
- Hope Scholarships (which allow a tax credit up $1,500 for students in their first two years of college); and
- Lifetime Learning Tax Credits (which allow tax credits for those students beyond the first two years of college, or taking classes part-time to improve or upgrade their job skills).
- Encourage banks and other lending institutions to provide low-interest loans for lifetime learning.
- Work to get disadvantaged and other students -- including immigrants, senior citizens, the unemployed, and underemployed -- into training for high-growth, high-skill jobs and, when appropriate, provide financial and other support, such as subsidized loans and scholarships.
- The American Council on Education (ACE) with the AFL-CIO and the National Association of Manufacturers will expand ACE's "College is Possible" campaign to include information for working adults about how to access workplace-based tuition and scholarships. The AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Institute for Literacy will develop hyperlinks to the "College is Possible" campaign websites that will direct businesses and others to important lifetime learning resources for workforce preparation.
- GTE, with the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and assistance from the National Institute for Literacy and the U.S. Department of Education, and will orchestrate a national platform that will increase funding, community awareness, and support a wide diversity of adult literacy programs. It will include launching a new fundraising effort that will enable all 21 million GTE telephone customers to donate $1 per month to support literacy in their community by checking a box on their monthly bill.
- AT&T will strengthen its support for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's efforts to increase the number of Hispanic students in higher education through communications programs and outreach activities. It will also expand its efforts to provide financial support and mentoring to women and under-represented minority graduate students in scientific areas of interest to the communications and networking industry through the AT&T Labs Fellowship Program.
- The California Community Colleges will convene a special task force to develop strategies to increase public awareness about programs that help students finance their education and increase the numbers of low-income students who successfully apply for those funds.
- Miami-Dade Community College will initiate activities to effectively use technology and state-of the-art processing to provide the public with information on financial aid opportunities.
- The AFL-CIO will highlight and promote exemplary education and training programs involving unions that serve unemployed and underemployed workers.
- The National League of Cities will publish a report about resources for incumbent worker training that ALL 50 state leagues can publicize through their newsletters.
- The National Institute for Literacy will publish a guide for employers on adult education and literacy needs of the workforce, the GED, and how to encourage workers to improve their basic skills.
- The U.S. Department of Labor will expand America's Learning Exchange (www.ALX.org) and America's Career Kit as a clearinghouse for information on education and training offerings, financial resources, skill analysis, and job and wage trends.
- The U.S. Department of Education will partner with the U.S. Conference Board to disseminate information about the economic benefits of workplace learning to businesses and unions throughout the United States.
Promote learning at a time AND place and IN A manner that meets workers' needs and interests.
Old formats of semesters, day-only classes, and multi-year programs no longer meet many workers' needs. Education and training programs must become more responsive to the conflicting demands faced by today's workers. New and powerful learning technologies allow for learning anytime at home, at the worksite, and in other appropriate places.
We recommend the following action steps to help meet this goal.
- Promote employee/employer partnerships that direct resources to career development, including funds for career counseling, distance learning, childcare, flex-time, and tuition.
- Expand business/education partnerships that offer mentoring and work-based learning.
- Help get more qualified Americans into the workforce by using technology and supporting the development and widespread dissemination of high-quality instructional software for adult basic education, GED equivalency, and English as a Second Language (ESL).
- Support the accelerated development of varied, effective education and training delivery methods, such as interactive learning software.
- Cisco Systems, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans and Employment Training Service will develop and pilot a new world e-learning delivery system that will allow transitioning military and CWA union personnel to pre-assess their IT skills; take training anytime, anywhere; and access hands-on skill development labs for IT training. Once this system has been piloted and proven, it will be expanded to other needed communities through a U.S. Department of Education grant managed by Arizona State University.
- State Farm Insurance Companies will increase the number of training courses available to its associates via its Intranet, the Internet, CD-ROMS, and Interactive Distance Learning Network, when those media are appropriate and effective. This saves transportation costs, allows associates to receive training in their workplace or via laptops and learning kiosks, and facilitates PROMPT training rather than waiting for enough learners to form a class.
- The United Steelworkers of America/Steel Industry's Institute for Career Development will work with their 56 career development sites and other labor-management programs to disseminate their high-tech "Modulized Basic Skills Learning Continuum" -- a series of basic skills teaching packages that use cutting-edge technologies and were developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, and others. Modules take adult learners from the simplest to the most complex entry level basic skills learning environment, and allow students to learn at their own pace.
- The American Council on Education, the University of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Department of Education will partner to put the external diploma program on Internet. The External Diploma program is a performance-based high school credentialing program.
- The National Association of Manufacturers will expand its virtual university to include access to adult basic education, GED equivalency, and English as Second Language (ESL) materials.
- The AT&T Learning Network Virtual Academy will provide on-line professional development courses on curriculum integration for teachers and basic technology training for the general public. Users will have the advantage of taking courses at their convenience for college credits, certificates, or continuing education units.
- The American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, (AFT) will use its website and publications to encourage state and local affiliates to participate in regional skill and workforce development alliances and to educate affiliates and members about resources available to assist the pursuit of education and training. AFT will also work with business partners to seek funding for expanded distribution of "Hard Work Pays," a resource for middle school students to help them prepare now for getting in to college when they graduate from high school.
- Miami-Dade Community College will expand its offerings and will seek grants to purchase WEB-TV and other technology to facilitate student access to coursework.
- The AT&T Learning Network will strengthen efforts to support teachers in the use of technology to help improve teaching and learning. This includes a variety of resources, including online professional development courses for both curriculum integration and technology training.
- The California Community Colleges will provide all 106 of its colleges with the ability to deliver program content to the workplace via satellite through expansion of the CCCSAT network, and will increase the number of Internet-based courses that can deliver training to employees' desktops through development of four California Virtual University Regional Centers.
- The U.S. Department of Education will partner with four states to develop a new series of family literacy distance education programs that can be accessed by adults and their children at home, at an adult education program site, or at a local community center. The programs, along with instructional resources for teachers, will be made available at cost to schools, adult education, Even Start, and Head Start programs throughout the country.
- The National Institute for Literacy will create an on-line catalogue for distance learning opportunities for adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL).
- The U.S. Department of Labor commits to establishing itself as a Lifelong Learning organization, including launching a Lifelong Learning initiative for its employees. This will include supporting opportunities for on-line learning.
Increase awareness and motivation to participate in education, training, and learning.
Americans must recognize the short and long-term benefits of investing their time and resources in education and training. Information on the options for learning must be presented regularly and in practical terms.
We recommend the following action steps to help meet this goal.
- Create a mechanism whereby the local employers' education and training requirements for hiring is known to all high schools, community colleges, community organizations, unions, incumbent workers, etc.
- Build upon an extensive network of over 600 local business-led coalitions, increasing their efforts -- in partnership with schools, unions, community institutions, and local officials -- to promote awareness about the importance of high quality education and workforce investments for future prosperity.
- Promote use of America's Learning Exchange (www.ALX.org), an on-line clearinghouse for learning opportunities and a resource for information about financial aid, consumer information, testing and assessment, career exploration, available job openings, and labor market trends.
- Increase research and evaluation on the value of training and continuous learning to both companies and individuals, including the impact of training investments on business profits.
- The Business Coalition for Education Reform will expand its initiative, doubling the number of employers (20,000) requesting high school transcripts in the hiring process, to emphasize for students the importance of academics in the world of work.
- The American Council on Education and the AFL-CIO will undertake a coordinated campaign in workplaces designed to increase the number of adults who take the GED Tests to one million per year.
- The Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund, Harvard University's National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, and the National Coalition for Literacy, will host a national literacy summit in February 2000. The summit, which will be modeled in part on Vice President Gore's Summit on 21st Century Skills for 21st Century Jobs, will bring together a broad group of stakeholders to create an action plan for how to close the skills gap. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, American Council on Education, National League of Cities, and U.S. Department of Labor, will promote and work with this and other partnership efforts to help Americans improve basic skills. Northeastern University will sponsor a New England-wide regional conference on literacy in cooperation with this effort.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce will partner with the National Association of Manufacturers and Women in Film to create and promote a national public service advertising campaign to encourage teen to pursue technical careers.
- Northeastern University and the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the University of Texas at Austin will organize community stakeholders to promote skills development, lifelong learning, and improved job access in the Boston and Austin areas. This will include: 1) helping convene business, labor, government, community-based organizations, and other educational institutions; 2) helping establish a set of goals and measures for workforce education, training, and advancement; and 3) working to establish specific commitments from stakeholders to provide literacy education, skill development, and on-the-job learning opportunities for youth and adults seeking advancement.
- AT&T will work with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering to develop Information Technology industry case studies that will help inform students of the skills needed to have successful career opportunities in the Information Technology industry.
- Miami-Dade Community College will open more one-stop career centers as part of its role in welfare-to-work efforts in the greater Miami area.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will encourage local partnerships between business and education that education teachers about the needs of business through business internships for teachers, teacher training, etc.
- The Education Excellence Partnership created by the Business Roundtable will build on its public service advertising campaign to increase public understanding of and support for the changes needed to achieve higher academic standards in our schools.
- The Interagency Council on Adult Literacy of Delaware will conduct a public awareness campaign directed to workers and an outreach campaign directed to employers, conveying the impact that increased literacy can have on job success and publicizing opportunities for literacy improvement.
- The U.S. Department of Labor will work with other stakeholder groups to facilitate their use of America's Learning Exchange (ALX) and America's Career Kit as tools for their members. This assistance can include electronic linkages to stakeholder websites, information for stakeholder publications and conferences, and other ways to facilitate learners' use of this free on-line resource.
- The SCANS/2000 Center at Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Department of Labor will work together to integrate the Career Transcript System into America's Learning Exchange (ALX), adding 10,000 persons by Labor Day 2000.
- The American Association of Community Colleges will actively encourage community colleges to participate in the ALX network and will continue its role as a key strategic partner in ALX.
- The American Council on Education will provide ALX with information on all 3,200 GED Testing sites, and will publish information on accessing postsecondary education and training in its newsletters, which reach over 50,000 educators.
- The National Institute for Literacy will provide ALX with a comprehensive listing of over 5,000 adult education and ESL programs nationwide, and will publicize ALX among these programs.
- Through its website (www.nlc.org) and its Workforce Development for Poverty Reduction Project, the National League of Cities will highlight successful local partnerships for lifelong learning that involve municipal government.
- The U.S. Department of Education will partner with the Leadership Group, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, and other interested federal agencies to launch a High Skills Communities Campaign to help communities mobilize their resources to address local skill needs. Participating communities will receive assistance in assessing their skill and educational needs, identifying potential resources, and raising public awareness about the importance of lifelong learning.
- The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor will expand and improve the use of workplace learning BY SPONSORING a national conference that will provide practical, hands-on technical assistance to interested employers and unions.
- The U.S. Department of Labor -- in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Education, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, and representatives of business, organized labor, and educational and community-based organizations -- will provide comprehensive lifelong learning information for American workers through a single "portal" on the Internet.
- By December of 2000, the National Institute for Literacy will publish a report that will detail appropriate cost-benefit analysis tools that could help employers make decisions about offering workplace literacy to employees.
As this document was developed, Organizations outside the Leadership Group approached the group with requests to be included in this effort by making a commitment that also works toward the group's vision. Because we hope this document will be a catalyst for action across the country, we welcome their commitments, which follow. We hope this document will encourage others to make similar commitments.
- Sallie Mae will work with interested members of the Leadership Group and other organizations to develop regional partnerships that facilitate training in skills needed to meet local labor market needs by providing affordable loans to finance relevant training opportunities.
- The Center for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) will create demonstrations of universal lifelong learning accounts in partnership with employers, government, and the independent sector.
- The Colorado Community Colleges will offer new e-commerce technical and business programs on-line to meet the time/distance education needs of adult learners.
- The American Society for Training and Development will work with its local chapter network to education chapters on the availability of Johns Hopkins University's SCANS/2000 Center and its initiative to create career transcripts. The Society for Human Resource Management will work with its local chapter network to educate them on the availability of the Johns Hopkins University's SCANS/2000 Center and its initiative to create Career Transcripts.
In addition to the Leadership Group, contributors to this report include the following:
Jim O'ConnellTish Olshefski
Betsy Brown Ruzzi
Special thanks to federal staff supporting the Leadership Group's work:
Alice Johnson, National Institute for Literacy
Russ Hamm, U.S. Department of Labor
Susan Carreon, U.S. Department of Labor
Jon Schnur, Office of the Vice President
Bethany Little, White House Domestic Policy Council
Rob Muller, U.S. Department of Education
Braden Goetz, U.S. Department of Education
Russ Kile, National Partnership for Reinventing Government
Lynn Kahn, National Partnership for Reinventing Government
Mary Parke, National Institute for Literacy
Christy Gullion, National Institute for Literacy
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