By 2030, as many as 375 million workers — or approximately 14 percent of the global workforce — may need to learn new skills or switch occupational categories as automatization and digitization continues to grow, according to a 2017 report from McKinsey Global Institute. The World Economic Forum speeds up that timeline in their estimates. They say by 2020, more than one-third of the core skill sets of most jobs will be skills that are not considered crucial to today’s workforce
But the change of priority skills doesn’t have to equate layoffs and unemployment. At least not if Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell has anything to say about it.
On Monday, Sewell, along with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), introduced the Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act, which would create a tax-preferred savings account with a generous government match to assist low and moderate-income workers seeking to retrain or upskill over the course of their careers.
“If we want to grow our economy and create better jobs for American families, we have to invest in our nation’s number one asset – our workforce,” said Sewell. “That means providing our workers with opportunities to learn new skills and transition into competitive jobs in a changing economy. The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act gives working families the tools they need to save for retraining and continuing education over the course of their careers. For workers in Alabama’s 7th District and across the country, today’s bill represents a step forward in our fight for better jobs, better pay, and a better future for our families.”
The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act would give workers a portable, government-matched savings vehicle for lifelong learning so they can continue to work and provide for their families. Contributions to an LLTA by low-to-moderate income workers or their employers are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar federal match of up to $1,000. The federal matching funds are directly deposited into the LLTA immediately after the contribution by the worker or employer. The worker then gets to choose how to use the LLTA funds, which can be applied towards any training that leads to a recognized post-secondary credential.
“As our economy continues to change, workers must have access to the opportunities of tomorrow,” asserted DelBene. “Right now, many hardworking Americans don’t have the skillsets to transition into a new job. This legislation will give those folks the tools to retrain and learn new skills so they can keep up with advances in technology and earn a good-paying job. Investing in these workers and helping them further their educations will yield benefits that help middle-class families thrive.”
Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner introduced a companion bill.
“By 2030, up to one-third of American workers will need to retrain or change jobs to keep up with disruptions due to automation and a changing economy. That means lifelong learning will be the new normal for millions of Americans,” added Warner. “The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act represents the first major investment towards helping workers pay for the education and training necessary to modernize their skills, and I’m pleased that this important legislation is moving forward in the House of Representatives.”