Individual Learning Accounts (ILA)
An Individual Learning Account (ILA) is an account managed by employees similar to a bank account that pays for training and development. An ILA provides a flexible and innovative approach to encouraging agency employees to take control of their own learning and career development.
The objective of ILAs is to provide a vehicle for funding continuous learning. The use of ILAs moves agencies' focus from a one-time learning event to continuous learning; from required training to strategic workforce development; and incorporates resources for training while balancing work and learning time. The employee can choose what they want to learn, how they want to learn and have the opportunity to gain the skills they need. ILAs are also meant to encourage more employees to invest (financially) in their own future, by contributing to their own accounts along with the contributions provided by the agency.
An Individual Learning Account (ILA) is a learning tool that provides a flexible and innovative approach to developing Federal employees. In January of 1999, President Clinton issued an Executive Order No. 13111, "Using Technology to Improve Training Opportunities for Federal Government Employees." This executive order created the Task Force on Federal Training Technology. The task force was required to develop options and recommendations for establishing a Federal Individual Training Account for each Federal employee. The account is to be used for training relevant to his or her Federal job. One recommendation offered by the task force was to create pilot programs of ILAs throughout the Federal government. ILAs were piloted in the Federal government from March 2000 through September 2000. The overall intent of these programs was to see how individuals use their accounts over time, to have them invest their own money into building up their skills and to manage their own careers. In addition, the pilot programs were intended to demonstrate the feasibility, usefulness and effectiveness of ILAs and to collect data to that end. At the end of the pilot some agencies continued the ILA program, others incorporated components into other programs, and others discontinued the program.
(How are ILA’s currently being used?)
Most Federal agencies do not currently use ILA’s as described in the pilot program. However, as stated previously, there are a few agencies that found ILA’s to be useful either by incorporating the ILA concept into established programs whose objectives are similar or they have incorporated some of its properties into another program. ILAs and Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs) offer a practical, sustainable way to pay for ongoing learning. In many cases, this type of program could solve some to the training budget problems within an agency.
(What are other organizations doing in this area?)
The following are examples of agency programs that currently exist and how ILAs are being used:
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) currently has an active ILA and it has been revised a little, but still resembles the original concept of their pilot program. In order to understand how FDIC designed their program attached is a copy of a set of slides that explains their program. FDIC ILA Program
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC). CDC developed an ILA in November 2005. Full-time permanent employees are provided $1000 in a learning account each year with a $3000 cap.
- The Department of Defense revised its ILA program and incorporated it into their Civilian Tuition Assistance Program.
- Lifelong Learning Accounts are called LiLAs whose model was developed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to help build a more competitive Workforce - http://www.lifelonglearningaccounts.org/about.html
(Where can employees find training and developmental opportunities?)
Training and developmental opportunities can be obtained internally and externally. ILA’s can also be used to supplement existing tuition reimbursement programs. Appropriation law requires monies appropriated for a given fiscal year be expended in that fiscal year (31 USC Sec. 1502). Executive Order No. 13111 states: "To the extent permitted by law, ILA accounts may be established with the funds allocated to the agency for employee training. No new funds are required to implement ILA’s. The best way to determine if your agency has an ILA program is to inquire at your agency’s Human Resources Office.
You may also look at the OPM’s wiki page on low cost training options to see how you can use the low cost examples that will stretch the funds in an account and still gain the skills desired. http://www.opm.gov/WIKI/training/Low-Cost-Training-Options.ashx.
What other tools and resources are available?
Listed below are resources that may help if you are interested in knowing more about ILAs: