Vice President Al Gore announced initiatives to promote “lifetime learning” during the “Vice President’s Summit on 21st Century Skills for 21st Century Jobs” Tuesday at the Marvin Center.
Vice President Al Gore
photo by Joshua S. Prezant
“Obviously, lifetime learning is more than just a phrase,” Gore said. “It is a way of expanding all our thinking about education beyond the boundaries of the classroom and the school buildings, to encompass the entirety of our lives.”
Gore, appearing with Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and Secretary of Commerce William Daley, led a town hall-style meeting with testimonials from people who have benefited from adult education. The event focused on training people to move into high-skill careers.
“America’s competitiveness and the prosperity of our people in a changing economy depend increasingly on high-skill, high-wage jobs,” Gore said.
Gore led the interactive session and questioned people in the audience and via satellite in Detroit, Philadelphia and Miami. The summit was broadcast to more than 650 locations around the country, with local officials in other cities participating in their own forums.
The initiatives Gore announced focused on providing educational opportunities to workers. The plan calls for $60 million in funding to train workers for high-skill jobs and help dislocated workers receive college financial aid for training.
“The more educated and trained the work force is, the more potential for passing that knowledge to contribute to the success of the employer,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said at the event. “Successful employers allow for . our nation to become the kind of productive and competitive country we need to be.”
In addition, Gore announced new Internet services to educate small-business owners and to help steer people toward educational opportunities in their area. He suggested forming “lifelong learning savings accounts” that would help people save for education in the future.
“We must find a way to make sure that every American has access to the resources they need to keep on learning,” Gore said. “That is the vision, and that must be our goal.”
The audience was largely commerce and education leaders but it also included some GW students. Jonathan Nurse, who wrote his senior thesis on welfare, said he found the event interesting.
“If you want people to truly be self-sufficient and give them employment, job training is at the center,” Nurse said. “Job training involving computer skills is critical to finding long-term employment.”