Kilmer, Thompson, Klobuchar, and Sasse Introduce Skills Investment Act of 2018
The Skills Investment Act of 2018 creates lifelong learning accounts, a portable, tax-advantaged benefit that will help workers learn new skills and compete in the changing economy
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced The Skills Investment Act of 2018. The bill would create lifelong-learning accounts, which workers in the changing economy can use to pay for skills training, career-related learning and professional development through their careers.
“Our economy is changing fast and the Skills Investment Act will help workers change with it,” Kilmer said. “American workers can use money from lifelong learning accounts to learn the skills needed to land new jobs, earn bigger paychecks and help our country out-compete the rest of the world. And employers can use the accounts to attract the best workers. This is just the start of what Congress can do to help America compete and win in the 21st Century economy.”
“I fully support expanding access to skills-based educational opportunities and professional development, and this bill provides incentives for workers of all ages to invest in their futures,” Thompson said. “With more than 6 million job openings, we must ensure that job seekers are learning the skills necessary to compete for in-demand jobs. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Career & Technical Education Caucus, I am proud to co-lead this bill with Rep. Kilmer and I thank him for his dedication to this issue.”
The Skills Investment Act enhances an existing tax-advantaged savings account, the Coverdell Education Savings Account, so that workers can use the accounts to pay for training programs that teach them new skills. Like a Health Savings Account, these voluntary accounts would be portable — moving with workers throughout their lives — contributions are tax free, and both workers and employers receive tax credits for contributions to the accounts.
The tax treatment of these savings accounts would be similar to a Health Savings Account. Mid-career workers can contribute up to $4,000 tax free each year, with a maximum contribution limit of $10,000. Employers would receive a 25% tax credit for contributions to a worker’s account.
Workers can use the account at any time to learn skills to make them more competitive as the economy changes. By contributing to the accounts, employers can attract and retain employees.
A bipartisan group of original sponsors joined Kilmer and Thompson in the House including Reps. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Scott Peters (D-CA).
“When I’m talking with employers back in Pennsylvania, they always tell me that they have good-paying, family-sustaining jobs available, but they can’t find skilled workers to fill them,” Barletta said. “I am proud to have worked alongside Representatives Kilmer, Thompson, and Peters to bridge the skills gap to give Americans the tools they need to get back into the workforce.”
“Education spurs innovation. American workers should have access to educational opportunities throughout their careers so they can remain competitive in the economy of tomorrow,” Rep. Peters said. “The Skills Investment Act reinforces that by encouraging workers and their employers to contribute to lifelong learning accounts. I will continue to support measures to prepare American workers to thrive in the evolving economy.”
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the companion version of the bill in the United States Senate.
“The American workforce is changing, and people need the ability to save for and attain the right training to begin and grow in their careers,” Senator Klobuchar said. “For some this means saving to enroll in college—but for others that means skills training, career-related learning, and professional development. No matter what path a student or worker takes, they should have the ability to save to get the education necessary for 21st century jobs.”
Lifelong learning accounts have historically had strong bipartisan support, including from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Prosperity Now, and the Goldwater Institute, and leading policy experts focused on the future of work.
Alastair Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative said: “Technology will continue to play a key role in reshaping the economy, making it increasingly important that workers have lifelong access to education and training. Worker-owned training accounts are needed to help workers update their existing skills and acquire new skills throughout their careers.”
Gabe Horwitz, Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way said: “Workers all over the country have an underlying worry about their economic future in the digital age. To help them and their children, we need new and modern policies that drastically increase the opportunity for workers to get 21st-century skills and high-quality credentials. Lifelong learning accounts are the exact type of forward-thinking tool that can transform the ability for people to earn a good life throughout their career. We applaud Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Derek Kilmer for their approach to this critical idea and consistent leadership on helping more Americans earn in the decades ahead.”
Katie Brown, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition said: “As the U.S. economy continues to grow, federal policies that aim to prepare workers for emerging job openings and help businesses maintain their competitive edge are more important than ever. National Skills Coalition—a multi-stakeholder organization focused on supporting a wide range of workers and industries—applauds Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ben Sasse as well as Representatives Derek Kilmer and Glenn Thompson for introducing the Skills Investment Act of 2018, a straightforward, bipartisan measure that will make career-related learning more accessible.”
Matthew Biggs, Legislative and Political Director for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said: “IFPTE is pleased to support the Skills Investment Act authored by Congressman Derek Kilmer. This legislation that will allow workers and students to utilize the tax benefits accorded by the Coverdell Savings Account not only for education expenses, but also for skills training, career-related learning, and professional development. This carefully crafted bill will also would prohibit employers from off-loading internal training costs onto employees. We are happy to endorse this bill.”
Rep. Kilmer: Tim Biba, Tim.Biba@mail.house.gov, 202-225-5916
Rep. Thompson: Renée Gamela, Renee.Gamela@mail.house.gov, 202-225-5121