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YouthPower Action releases report on soft skills and youth success

December 13, 2016

The YouthPower Action project has released a report on key soft skills that can benefit youth across multiple sectors of life, such as work and careers, violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive health. The report, titled Key Soft Skills for Cross-sectoral Youth Outcomes, identifies a set of soft skills (also called life skills, socioemotional skills, transferable skills or developmental assets) that can improve many aspects of young people’s lives. YouthPower Action is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and is led by FHI 360 and a consortium of partners.

young men using computerThe authors focused on skills, which include positive self-concept, self-control and higher-order thinking, selected from a review of literature across disciplines, as well as from consultations with key experts. The report identifies additional soft skills that are especially important for one or more specific outcome areas, including communication skills, social skills, empathy and goal orientation.

“While soft skills are increasingly recognized as important, there is a lack of consensus on which skills to focus on in youth development programs,” said Laura Lippman, Senior Technical Advisor with FHI 360 and one of the authors of the report. “This report reviews the current research base to answer this question: Which soft skills are the best bets for improving youth outcomes across sectors?”

The study builds on previous USAID investments in understanding the evidence linking soft skills to youth workforce success. YouthPower Action helps advance the evidence base on cross-sectoral youth programming and provides guidance to practitioners on which skills they should incorporate into their programs.

Two related, forthcoming studies will identify guiding principles for building soft skills in international youth development programs and assess how to measure soft skills. This report was launched, and the two forthcoming studies were provided in draft, at an event on December 5, 2016, that featured YouthPower Action’s body of work on soft skills. International youth development practitioners, including members of the USAID YouthPower Learning Cross-sector Skills for Youth Community of Practice, attended the event and discussed practical implications of the research.

Photo credit: FHI 360