Gore Announces New Government Initiatives To Further Work of Commission

The Clinton administration will conduct a major summit next year "where leaders from business, labor, higher education, government and philanthropy will come together and, hopefully, make real commitments" to furthering continuous learning for all adults, Vice President Al Gore announced in a special appearance before a national conference on lifelong learning Nov. 18.

"We must do more to help all Americans pursue lifelong learning - for their sake, for the sake of their families and for the sake of our nation," said Gore, praising the work of the commission. He pledged, along with Commission Chairman Morton Bahr, to take an active role in the summit, to be organized by the Departments of Labor, Education, Commerce and the Office of Personnel Management.

The Vice President also praised the efforts of CWA to further lifelong learning and cited as examples the Alliance for Employee Growth and Development, a partnership of CWA, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AT&T and Lucent Technologies. and Next Step, a program at Bell Atlantic, which came out of CWA's last round of bargaining with NYNEX.

Gore noted that the Alliance has provided over 5 million hours of training to more than 100,000 workers, with 36 percent of eligible workers taking courses through 200 colleges and universities, via satellite, computers, in lecture halls and through self-paced learning.

Next Step, he pointed out, currently has 1,000 students pursuing a specially-tailored associate's degree in applied science. Workers get one day per week off, with pay, to attend school, and the program pays for tuition, books and lap top computers. Upon graduation, they receive a 5-percent salary hike. Last year, more than 200 students made straight A's and 72 percent appeared on the dean's list.

"These are impressive programs, and I hope similarly successful efforts to promote lifelong learning take hold across the country," Gore said.

As further evidence of the Clinton administration's commitment to education, Gore cited a "lifetime learning" tax credit of 20 percent of all educational costs up to $5,000 per year, which after the year 2000 will apply to the first $10,000. And of special interest to CWA members, the administration's backing for Section 127 of the Internal Revenue code, which allows an exclusion for income tax purposes, of $5,250 per year in college costs paid by their employer.

The Labor Department, he said will add two new web sites to complement "America's JobBank," listing over 750,000 job vacancies, and an on-line resume service called "America's Talent Bank."