THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Thursday, January 28, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
CLOSING THE SKILLS GAP
The new economy and new technologies are creating new opportunities for people who live nowhere near a city or an interstate, for people with disabilities, for people who work at home. But until every American has a chance to learn the skills that this new economy rewards, our work is not done.
President Bill Clinton
January 28, 1999
Today at the White House, President Clinton will unveil his plan for closing America's skills gap and help unemployed workers get back on their feet. The President's fiscal year 2000 budget includes a strategy to close the skills gap by investing in adult education and family literacy, worker training, and an increased commitment to help disadvantaged youth, reduce teen dropout rates, and help former dropouts complete their high school degrees.
A Presidential Plan To Close The Skills Gap And Increase Employment. 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. To address this challenge, President Clinton is announcing that his fiscal year 2000 budget includes a $965 million three-part initiative to address the skills gap.
Improving The Quality Of Adult Education. One of the greatest barriers adults face in gaining employment are poor reading and writing skills. The President's plan seeks to improve adult education and family literacy by:
- Expanding adult education grants so education centers can hire more teachers and invest in computers, while challenging states and localities to raise the quality of their programs;
- $70 million to expand access to high quality English language proficiency instruction;
- $20 million to help develop technology for adult learners, including high quality software and advanced research and development;
- A new 10% tax credit for employers who establish certain workplace literacy programs;
- New initiatives to implement adult education and lifelong learning strategies on the state and local level.
A Universal Re-Employment Initiative. The President's fiscal year 2000 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: (1) all displaced workers will receive training if they need it; (2) all workers who lost their job due to no fault of their own will get the re-employment services they need; and (3) all Americans would have access to One-Stop Career Centers, including a nationwide toll-free employment hotline, and job search information at Community-Based Organizations and mobile One-Stop Career Centers.
Getting Disadvantaged Youth Into The Workforce. The unemployment rate among disadvantaged youth, particularly minorities, remains much higher than the national average. To help address this problem and fund promising approaches to increasing the educational attainment and employment rates of at-risk youth, the President is proposing:
- Increased funding for YouthBuild, a program that aids disadvantaged young adults with education and employments skills;
- New "Right-Track" partnerships to reduce the drop-out rate;
- Doubling the GEAR-UP program, which helps mentor children and prepare them for college;
- A New Regional Youth Employment Initiative to link the economic strategies of Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities with the need to increase the employment of disadvantaged youth;
- An additional $65 million to prepare disadvantaged youth for success in college, including, expanded outreach, counseling, and educational support, and a new initiative to help disadvantaged students stay in college.