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CONFERENCE to highlight future job force, new programs


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Workers will always need jobs, and jobs will always need workers.

How best to fit them together for the future is the focus of a government-sponsored conference of labor leaders, company executives and government officials.

Participants in the 21st Century Workforce Summit, including President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are expected to discuss America's changing employment outlook and the obstacles workers and employers face.

The agency also is announcing several new job initiatives, including a partnership with, a job search Internet site, and creation of a national high school for Job Corps youth.

``Our country must understand the work force changes that are occurring at an accelerating pace,'' said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. ``We need to focus on the skills gap within the work force, the demographic changes facing the work force and the future of the workplace.'' spokesman Dean Rosingana and Labor Department spokesman Stuart Roy declined to discuss details of the new partnership.

In his prepared remarks, Greenspan said ``learning will increasingly need to be a lifelong activity.''

``It is evident that we need to foster a flexible education system _ one that integrates work and training and that serves the needs both of experienced workers at different stages in their careers and of students embarking on their initial course of study,'' Greenspan said.

In another new initiative, the Labor Department is pairing with the Education Department to create a national high school for youth in Job Corps, which offers training to prepare low-income teens for the workplace.

The school will incorporate Internet and distance learning, and will give participants the chance to work toward a real high school diploma instead of the general education diploma, or GED.

The two agencies also are announcing a new adult learning program to improve math and reading skills for workers who want to advance in a career.

The summit includes a job fair and panel discussions, and is being broadcast live on the department's Web site.

Executives are participating from companies including Microsoft, Harley-Davidson, Marriott, Hewlett-Packard and Wal-Mart.

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