Alexis M. Herman was sworn in as secretary of labor yesterday, 113 days after she was nominated, and said she wants to help move people from welfare to work.

Vice President Gore administered the oath of office at the Labor Department, joking that the long delay in her confirmation reminded people that "good things are worth waiting for."

Herman's confirmation was at first delayed because of questions about her role in the organization of White House coffees, held by President Clinton for major fund-raisers.

Once that was disposed of, her nomination was delayed again until the Clinton administration agreed to drop a planned executive order on requiring labor agreements for federal construction projects. Business groups said that would discriminate against nonunion contractors.

Herman, 49, recalled that she began her career in 1969 as a social worker for Catholic Charities in Mobile, Ala., helping unskilled young men from housing projects find jobs at shipyards in nearby Pascagoula, Miss.

She said that she wants to make certain that "every American has the education, the training and the skills that they need to succeed."

Herman succeeds Robert B. Reich, who left the Labor Department after four years on Jan. 12. CAPTION: Vice President Gore swears in Alexis M. Herman as nieces Chioma Iwuoha, left, and Angelica Broadus hold Bible.