As our global economy limps, its footing securely rests upon constant knowledge and information. The knowledge-based market prefers facts over opinions, information over hearsay, results over speculation.
Jobs are victims too: Adults in the workforce are not only concerned with finding a job, but also keeping one. Staying current requires more education and training beyond the grand ole days of past experiences, traditional stories and out-dated dogma. Despite these conditions, the cost of education, training, and credentials leaps toward higher-dollars.
One remedy to the ills of economy, employability, and tuition are :
‘Lifelong Learning Accounts.’
Lifelong learning accounts, often called LiLAs (coined by CAEL– The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning in 2001), are a personal and educational investment nest-egg in which employees, employers, and others contribute to financing continual education. In essence, they’re apart of a sharing fund to keep a worker employed, knowledgeable, and current in the workforce.
Unlike other funding solutions, LiLAs are employer-matched and tax-incentivized, while remaining owned by the worker to keep; even after finding other employment. Throughout the US, there are states and municipalities either piloting, implementing, or sustaining LiLAs today. In fact, on July 13th, Congress introduced the Lifelong Learning Accounts Act of 2010 (H.R. 5715).
So, lifelong learning accounts and this sharing model are worth getting to know and learn. With that, there is still a great deal of research and inquiry necessary. My concern is not about its worthiness, but its responsiveness to certain populations being targeted. These accounts appear to be geared for “frontline workers,” but not for all adults who want to continue their learning. What we have seen in workplaces is the need to further education across executive, managerial, and entry levels.
Another concern is the investment ownership of the account. I understand that the funds collected will be used to help further education (similar to a 401k, but for training); but I wonder how these accounts are set-up and managed. Can the owner choose investment vehicles like mutual funds, individual stocks, or even an IPO as ways to increase the learning portfolio?
Still, even after our knowledge economy and job market fully heal, I embrace the concept and the direction where learning and employment become one and the same . Even if the bill doesn’t become law, interests across the nation and other countries speak to educational needs we cannot afford to ignore.