9:00 am EDT - 10:30 am EDT

Past Event

Soft skills for workforce success: From research to action

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

9:00 am - 10:30 am EDT

Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC

It is an exciting moment in the field of child and youth development, with policymakers, funders, the media, educators, and parents paying increasing attention to the importance of so-called soft skills. The academic and practitioner communities have long been working to understand the evidence around soft skills and their impact on outcomes across the lifecycle. However, are these communities ready to take advantage of the increasing windows of opportunity to take action on soft skills in the policy arena?

On June 17, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and FHI 360 hosted a symposium to discuss current work on soft skills and their links to labor market success in developing countries. Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Universal Education Rebecca Winthrop presented the main debates in key areas, such as terminology, definitions, and measurement, and discussed what is needed for existing work on soft skills to be taken up in policy and practice. James Heckman, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, then gave a keynote address discussing the evidence base around soft skills, including discussion of what traditional assessments fail to capture and how to foster soft skills. Following the presentations, panelists commented on Professor Heckman’s presentation and provided insights on issues in soft skills, why they are important, and how to translate evidence into practice.