Recent research shows that soft skills can have a greater impact on an individual’s employment, earnings, and overall well-being than job-specific technical skills. In fact, employers globally report difficulty filling jobs because new recruits often lack soft skills. According to Child Trends, soft skills include “competencies, behaviors, attitudes and personal qualities that enable people to effectively navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals.” Researchers, educators and youth development practitioners use varying frameworks to classify the ‘most important’ soft skills. This is demonstrated by the multitude of names often considered synonymous with soft skills, including: non-cognitive, workforce readiness, life, behavioral, and 21st century skills (among others). Examples of the most valuable types of soft skills to youth and adult success are: social skills, communication skills, problem solving, critical thinking, self-control, and positive self-concept.
Naandi Foundation, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, McCann Global Health
What do young people really want? What drives and motivates them? What influences their behaviors? By better understanding this target group we can improve the effectiveness of our programming. This session will look at universal insights on what motivates young people from different countries, and how we can change key health and social behaviors of youth, especially adolescent girls, who are often economically and socially marginalized, to influence their future economic prospects. An example from India will be shared to highlight how access to information and communications technology (ICT) has great potential to develop soft skills and future economic opportunities for young girls.
USAID, Pathfinder International
Positive Youth Development requires thinking more systemically about cross-sectoral factors affecting youth and equipping youth to navigate these factors. This includes sexual and reproductive health risk management as a workforce development (WFD) consideration. Participants will play "Pathways to Change", a game which can be used to stimulate youth to think about reasons for continuing certain behaviors. While the game helps youth understand their risky behaviors and how they can avoid them, it also helps those working with youth understand perceptions of barriers to and facilitators of change. Participants will also learn how the game can be a tool for data collection.
Child Trends, nter-American Development Bank / Multilateral Investment Fund, The MasterCard Foundation
Case studies are an important method of applied and empirical research. They can provide a clear understanding of how a sequence of events happened, and help to untangle cause and effect. The MasterCard Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank / Multilateral Investment Fund commissioned case studies to get an in-depth understanding of the process and contextual factors at play when implementing interventions aimed at strengthening soft skills for youth in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), respectively. The purpose of the session is to provide governments, foundations, donors, and private sector concrete knowledge on what works and what doesn't work when supporting scale up of soft skills interventions.
Key advances in mobile technology, behavioral science, gamification, and predictive data analytics enable people, education providers, organizations, employers and governments to discover people's unique talents, match them to the most promising education, skilling, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and equip populations with the critical work skills needed for employability and continuous learning in the 21st Century digital economy. Knack's CEO Guy Halfteck will introduce a new paradigm, The Human Graph, that leverages these advances and reshapes the future of talent, employability, work, and economic opportunity.
FHI 360, Mercy Corps, USAID
USAID’s Youth Power Action project has conducted a study that identifies a core set of soft skills that predict positive outcomes across the fields of workforce development, violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive health. This builds on the Workforce Connections report, Key Soft Skills that Foster Youth Workforce Success, highlighted at last year’s Summit. This session will present the result of Key Skills for Cross-Sectoral Youth Outcomes study that identifies the most important soft skills relating to violence prevention and reproductive health. The panel will include experts in violence prevention and reproductive health to comment on the findings of the study. Participants will engage with findings from both studies, and implications for youth programming.
Creative Associates International, Child Trends
Youth in conflict and post-conflict settings require tailored training opportunities and employment services to hone the vocational and soft skills needed to find and retain jobs. How can we assess the vocational and soft skills needs in a conflict and post-conflict context, often characterized by a stagnant or shrinking economy and unstable political and security framework, to be sure we get the training right? This interactive deep dive will use evidence developed through Creative Associates’ experience in Afghanistan and Child Trends' contributions in Nicaragua as a starting point for an exploration of demand-driven training needs assessments.
TechnoServe, Elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, Citi Foundation
While many young people run businesses, how many actually run them well? What if young entrepreneurs in a critical part of the economy got the tools to take their businesses to the next level? The Smart Duka program in Kenya is finding out the answer. Working with small retail shops in Kenya, which supply up to 80 percent of the country’s consumer goods, TechnoServe, Elea Foundation and Citi Foundation are helping young entrepreneurs find digital and business solutions to maximize the potential of their enterprises. These lessons can be applied to a wide range of youth entrepreneurship efforts worldwide.
While there is broad agreement on the value of behavioral skills as predictors for economic and social success, can these skills really be developed in education and work readiness training programs for youth? What does it take to mimic the kind of mentorship for young people that occurs in well-functioning families, in these programs and in the workplace? How can we better support youth economic opportunities with the integration of evidence-based practices to enhance emotional intelligence? Through a comparative discussion that draws on leading research from the U.S., and examples from our sector, this plenary will examine the impact of emotional intelligence training, and what these findings mean for youth training programs in development settings.
Adam Smith International
These youth are lazy. They don’t have skills. They only want to idle. In Kenya, this single story about youth from the coast has shaped the mindsets of educators, employers, government and youth themselves. It is stunting innovation and ultimately limiting employment and growth opportunities. As described by Chimamanda Adichie, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.
DAI Maker Lab
Young people face a number of critical challenges to access the skills, core competencies and critical thinking needed to reach their full social and economic potential. In parallel, recent years have seen an explosion of new tools, technologies and approaches designed to engage youth. Among these is the Maker Space movement that emphasizes “making” over rote learning, and that draws on new technological materials to expand opportunities for young people to learn through firsthand experience.