The growing significance of personal success skills has been a challenge for those trying to help struggling adults get and keep good jobs, and grow in careers. Workforce development programs tend to focus on occupational skills, like welding, truck driving, and phlebotomy. And "job readiness training" in these programs too often means resume writing and interviewing -- two skills no employer asks for.
Three reasons for this collective neglect are (1) a lack of clarity about what, specifically, we're talking about when we refer to these skills; (2) common belief that these factors, which seem in sum to constitute one's personality, aren't going to change in adulthood; and (3) uncertainty about the best ways to help adults develop them.
A new study conducted by SRI International for the Joyce Foundation addresses each of these hurdles. It supplies a coherent framework for understanding what the skills are, summarizes research that shows they can still be developed well into adulthood (old dogs CAN learn new tricks), and highlights effective programs around the country that are already empowering so many struggling adults to successfully pursue quality employment.
This report is a charge to educators and workforce development providers, human services agencies, policymakers, foundations and researchers to begin addressing the economic opportunity challenge of our time. SRI has provided recommendations to each of these groups on how to get started. Now, it's our job to take up the charge.