May 20, 2008
The United States cannot succeed in the international economy without a welleducated, well-trained workforce. The United States needs a strong education system and lifelong learning opportunities to prepare today’s workers as well as the next generation of workers for the ever-changing economy.
Business Roundtable member companies work hard to provide excellent education, training and transition benefits to our employees. But we know that not all Americans have access to these resources, which is why we’re proposing a new approach to provide universal access to worker training and adjustment assistance: AMERICA 21.
Today’s workforce must remain competitive. We need to help employees keep their skills sharp and relevant. In the short term, this means renewing and improving Trade Adjustment Assistance. In the longer term, AMERICA 21 would consolidate effective training, assistance and education programs and make sure that workers can have easy access to them.
AMERICA 21 would:
Offer continuous access to education and training programs to help build a skilled and flexible workforce, not simply focus training opportunities on U.S. employees after they lose a job
Include all workers, not differentiate benefits based on the reason a worker has lost a job
Be based upon the fundamental principles of portability, ease of access, simplicity, quality and public/private partnership
Include options such as a Portable Tax-Advantaged Fund that empowers employees to manage their own education and plan for employment transitions · Establish 21st Century “One-Stop Shops” where workers can easily find current information about labor market trends, education and skill requirements, job opportunities, self-assessments, and available federal, state and local assistance and training to help them plan their next career move
Incorporate incentives, state and community college partnerships and other innovative ways to develop lifelong learning initiatives
To develop the design and funding mechanisms for AMERICA 21, Business Roundtable calls on Congress to immediately create a bipartisan National Commission on Workforce Competitiveness.
Why do we need AMERICA 21?
American workers need programs to develop and maintain the skills needed for higherskilled service and manufacturing jobs that increasingly characterize the U.S. economy in the 21st century. American taxpayers spend an estimated $18 billion on a patchwork of adjustment and training programs. AMERICA 21, as we envision it, would channel those resources and additional investments, if they’re needed, into a one-click, easy-touse, consumer-friendly program.
What is different about AMERICA 21?
AMERICA 21 gives all workers continuing access to education and training programs and does not wait for people to experience job loss or differentiate benefits based on the reason a worker has lost the job.
How does AMERICA 21 work with existing programs like Trade Adjustment Assistance?
AMERICA 21 would build on effective programs and channel funding from the myriad of current initiatives into a modernized, streamlined system that leverages and builds on today’s best private and public sector practices.
Who will determine the design and funding mechanisms for AMERICA 21?
To develop the design and funding mechanisms for AMERICA 21, Business Roundtable calls on Congress to immediately create a bipartisan national commission on workforce competitiveness based on the principles of portability, flexible access, simplicity, quality and public-private partnership. The commission would do a thorough review of the billions that are currently spent on federal adjustment and training programs and determine the best way to establish AMERICA 21.
Do companies have a role in AMERICA 21?
Business Roundtable companies already work very hard to provide excellent education, training and transition benefits to employees. But we know that not all Americans have access to these resources, which is why we have proposed AMERICA 21 as a new approach to provide universal access to worker training and adjustment assistance. All U.S. citizens, communities and companies need policies that will help them compete with powerful international competitors and adapt to a rapidly changing business environment driven by technological innovation, a surge in energy prices, and other economic, societal and political forces.
Will AMERICA 21 be enough to ensure that U.S. workers can succeed in the world economy?
No, AMERICA 21 needs to be an integral component of interrelated domestic and international policy that will maintain and improve the competitiveness of American workers and companies.