Developing Social-Emotional Skills for the Labor Market
Although there is a general agreement in the literature of the importance of social-emotional skills for labor market success, there is little consensus on the specific skills that should be acquired or how and when to teach them. The psychology, economics, policy research, and program implementation literatures all touch on these issues, but they are not sufficiently integrated to provide policy direction.
The objective of this paper is to provide a coherent framework and related policies and programs that bridge the psychology, economics, and education literature, specifically that related to skills employers value, non-cognitive skills that predict positive labor market outcomes, and skills targeted by psycho-educational prevention and intervention programs. The paper uses as its base a list of social-emotional skills that employers value, classifies these into eight subgroups (summarized by PRACTICE), then uses the psychology literature—drawing from the concepts of psycho-social and neuro-biological readiness and age-appropriate contexts—to map the age and context in which each skill subset is developed. The paper uses examples of successful interventions to illustrate the pedagogical process. The paper concludes that the social-emotional skills employers value can be effectively taught when aligned with the optimal stage for each skill development, middle childhood is the optimal stage for development of PRACTICE skills, and a broad international evidence base on effective program interventions at the right stage can guide policy makers to incorporate social-emotional learning into their school curriculum.