To succeed in any field, workers need certain general skills in addition to key academic and industry-specific skills. These general skills include teamwork, communication, and time-management—abilities that typically make someone a good employee, regardless of his or her field.
Recognizing that educational programs can do a better job of teaching employability skills alongside academics, we support a more intentional effort to incorporate these skills across grade levels and content areas. Regardless of their college and career goals, students could benefit from understanding— from an early age—the skills that employers need.
The U.S. Department of Education set out to identify key employability skills and make them a high priority at all levels of the education system. Since 2010, RTI has worked with the department to raise the profile of employability skills, thus helping increase college and career readiness for the nation’s students.
Uniting Education and Employment Stakeholders around a Common Set of Employability Skills
Employability skills are not a new topic. Various education and training organizations—including professional associations, employers, federal agencies, and state and local educational institutions—have done significant work to identify key employability skills. However, they refer to similar sets of skills by a variety of names, such as soft skills, non-cognitive skills, or career readiness skills.
To help the education and employment fields unify around a shared set of employability skills, we created the Employability Skills Framework, an interactive website available to educators and the general public. The Framework presents three broad categories of employability skills: applied knowledge, effective relationships, and workplace skills. The site depicts how these skills intersect with various college and career readiness initiatives and includes a variety of tools and resources to support the instruction and assessment of employability skills, including an interactive lesson planning checklist.
To increase the reach of the Framework, we partnered with the College and Career Readiness and Success Center and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, both part of the American Institutes for Research. We developed a training module for groups of educators who want to learn about the Framework and make employability skills a priority at the state, employer, district, and individual teacher levels.
Promoting the Framework to Benefit Students, Job Seekers, and People Striving for Career Advancement
Our aim is to ensure that research on employability skills benefits the people who need it the most: students, job-seekers, and employees looking to advance their careers. With this in mind, we designed an outreach strategy to reach the broad education and workforce community through social media as well as traditional channels, such as conferences and newsletters. High-volume webinars and a radio talk-show discussion with employers have also been part of our multimedia message.
The site quickly found its audience, attracting thousands of visitors in its first year, with many returning for multiple visits. We saw traffic spikes after major publicity efforts, including webinars and email campaigns. Likewise, national college and career readiness initiatives are aligning themselves with the Framework, providing a common language for teaching and assessing employability skills across education and training stakeholders.