Workforce Connections Community of Practice: The Challenge of "Soft Skills" Measurement: Toward a Common Approach

Workforce Connections (USAID, FHI 360, Child Trends, Making Cents International, and RTI International)

On May 28, 2014, Workforce Connections hosted its Community of Practice launch eventThe goal of Workforce Connections is to promote dialogue and knowledge exchange among international youth workforce development professionals.

The event also introduced the community of practice's forum for collaboration and knowledge exchange,, where stakeholders can find and share important news, publications, and events for international youth workforce development.

Our speakers included Luis Crouch from RTI International, Clare Ignatowski, representing the USAID Office of Education, and Child TrendsLaura Lippman and Kristin Anderson Moore.

Lara Goldmark, Director of Workforce Connections, FHI 360 and Eric Johnson, Supervisory Education Development Specialist, USAID moderated the event.

Event Information:

There is widespread agreement among employers, international donors and youth development practitioners that “soft skills” (e.g. communications, teamwork, and problem-solving), are important for successful transition into adulthood and for success in the workplace. Research carried out in the US has highlighted the importance of noncognitive skills or character traits such as conscientiousness, self-regulation and perseverance on long-term success in education and in wages. 

However, agreement is lacking around the definitions of and terminology for these skills, and more importantly, which skills are the most important for work readiness, particularly in developing country contexts. This lack of consensus and lack of assessment frameworks and tools to measure the development of those skills across different international contexts are obstacles to the field of youth workforce development.

This event introduced an in-depth review of recent and current efforts toward standardizing measurement approaches to soft and noncognitive skills in international workforce development programs, while drawing on lessons learned from past efforts that resulted in a common measurement approach to USAID early grade reading programs.

Presentation Topics and Materials:

  • Child Trends: Preview of a Workforce Connections initiative to develop a common conceptual framework for soft and noncognitive skills measurement in international workforce development, based on a review of empirical evidence and other relevant literature, and in consultation with key stakeholders
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