Memorandum from the President for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Preparing American Youth for 21st Century College and Careers (10/13/00)


                         Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                            October 13, 2000

                        October 13, 2000


SUBJECT:       Preparing American Youth for 21st Century College and Careers

Six years ago, I signed into law the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 to
expand career and educational opportunities for our youth.  A one-time Federal
investment to jump-start State and local education improvement and workforce
development efforts, the initiative will end next October after helping raise
the academic performance of millions of students.

States and schools have used School-to-Work resources to help students achieve
high academic and industry-recognized occupa-tional standards; encourage
community and business involvement in our schools; and integrate technical and
academic education.  Through innovative learning strategies like strengthened
curricula, work-based learning, internships, and career academies,
School-to-Work has made learning more relevant to the challenges students will
face after high school graduation.

Research shows that School-to-Work students take more challenging classes, earn
higher grades, and are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in
college.  In particular, School-to-Work programs such as career academies have
improved the academic achievement of students who are most likely to drop out of
school.  School-to-Work helps students see the relevance of their studies for
their futures, motivating them to attend classes and study hard, and has created
thousands of new partnerships between businesses and schools.

But the need for highly skilled and educated workers has only grown in the past
few years.  Information Age jobs require more skills and knowledge, much of
which was unknown only a decade ago.  More than four-fifths of manufacturers use
computers in design or manufacturing, and nine-tenths of them report
diffi-culties in finding qualified job candidates.  The number of jobs that
require a college degree is growing twice as fast as the number of other jobs.
In these strong economic times, the National Association of Manufacturers
describes the shortage of skilled workers as "the only dark cloud hanging over
our future."

As the School-to-Work legislation nears its conclusion, the Federal Government
must prepare to continue its support of State and local efforts that prepare our
youth for postsecondary education and careers.  To build upon the lessons of
School-to-Work program and coordinate the efforts of Federal programs to prepare
youth for their futures, I hereby establish the National Task Force on Preparing
Youth for 21st Century College and Careers.  The Task Force will examine how a
coordinated Federal policy can help all youth prepare for future careers in a
rapidly changing, technologically driven economy.

The Task Force shall be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Labor.
Other members of the Task Force shall include the Secretary of Housing and Urban
Development, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of
Commerce, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and other
executive branch officials as determined by the co-chairs.  The Department of
Labor shall provide funding and administrative support for the Task Force.

The Task Force shall, to the extent permitted by law:

1.   promote coordination and collaboration among Federal agencies seeking to
     improve the academic achievement and career preparation of America's youth;

2.   continue existing efforts to involve businesses and community organizations
     in improving the education and training of our youth;

3.   promote sustainable School-to-Work reforms in interested States and
     encourage the effective utilization of Federal School-to-Work funding
     through outreach, technical assistance, and dissemination of research
     findings and best practices;

4.   help State and local agencies locate resources, including Federal
     resources, for initiatives that build on their School-to-Work efforts;

5.   report to the President, through the Director of the National Economic
     Council and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, no later than
     January 15, 2001, on:

     (a)  the ways in which the School-to-Work Opportunities Act has improved
          students? academic performance and career readiness, including
          community involvement, integration of academic and occupational
          curricula and standards, small learning communities, career
          development, application of academic and technical knowledge and
          skills in the 21st century workplace, development and utilization of
          industry-recognized portable credentials, and coordination of
          secondary and postsecondary education;

     (b)  the extent to which States are preparing to sustain School-to-Work
          reforms as Federal support under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act
          phases out;

     (c)  measures the Federal Government can undertake to promote the
          effectiveness of State and local School-to-Work reforms;

     (d)  how the Departments of Education and Labor can build on the
          School-to-Work program to collaborate and coordinate critical programs
          that prepare youth for postsecondary education and careers; and

     (e)  other matters related to our youth?s preparation for and transition to
          postsecondary education and careers, as deemed appropriate by the Task

6.   Report to the President, through the Director of the National Economic
     Council and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, no later than
     September 15, 2002, on:

     (a)  updated and revised findings from the Task Force?s January 2001

     (b)  how the efforts of Federal agencies to prepare our youth for further
          education and careers, in addition to those efforts of the Departments
          of Education and Labor, can be better coordinated, be made more
          effective, and incorporate the lessons learned from the School-to-Work

     (c)  the gaps, if any, between current Federal activities and the rapidly
          changing education and training needs of the American economy, and how
          those gaps could be addressed by Federal, State, or local governments
          or private organizations;

     (d)  how School-to-Work strategies can best prepare special populations for
          college and careers, including individuals who do not graduate from
          high school, ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged students,
          youths involved in the juvenile justice system, and students with

     (e)  what, if any, critical needs exist for new data and research related
          to improving the academic achievement and career preparation of our
          Nation?s youth; and

     (f)  other matters related to our youth?s preparation for and transition to
          postsecondary education and careers, as deemed appropriate by the Task

The Task Force shall terminate after it issues its final report to the President
in September 2002.

                                   WILLIAM J. CLINTON

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