IN January, the Labor Department outlined the Workforce Security Act, which the Clinton administration hopes to enact this year. The plan, which the White House says will change an ``unemployment'' system into a ``reemployment'' system, would:
* Offer aptitude testing and job-search assistance to all laid-off workers.
* Identify early on those workers who are at risk of long-term unemployment and offer them longer-term assistance, including training in basic or occupational skills.
* Develop a labor market information system about job openings, skill requirements, and highly rated training programs.
* Deliver these services through local ``career centers,'' which could be operated by public or private organizations, or as a partnership.
* Monitor the career centers' success in job placement, salaries, and customer satisfaction.
* Establish a single standard of eligibility for dislocated workers, without regard to cause of dislocation. Currently, for example, workers who lose jobs because of the North American Free Trade Agreement are eligible for special benefits.
* Be open to innovative approaches at the state level, including offering cash bonuses to people who quickly find jobs, allowing workers to use their benefits to start their own businesses, and encouraging companies to avoid layoffs by providing partial unemployment benefits to workers whose hours are shortened during downturns.
* Be governed at the local level by a ``work-force investment board'' made up of local leaders in business, labor, and education, appointed by elected officials. Existing ``private industry councils,'' local nonprofit groups that get federal funding under the Job Training Partnership Act, could evolve into this role.
This plan is separate from the Clinton administration's welfare reform goals.