Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What Is the Connection Between Social and Emotional Learning and Employability?

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Recently, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) developed an employability skills framework and created a website to assist educators and youth workers with tools to promote these skills in their settings.

Laura Rasmussen Foster (RTI International), a leader in developing this framework, shared it with participants at the recent How Kids Learn V conference in Berkeley. Below is a 15-minute video of her presentation.

Beyond the Bell at AIR published a paper discussing how the skills cited in the Employability Skills Framework relate to social emotional learning. They gave us permission to cite a portion of this paper. See below. 

"Although some researchers argue that schools are not doing enough to support the development of the necessary skills for workforce readiness, evidence suggests that we already know a lot about how to develop some of the employability skills outlined in the OCTAE framework—we may just be calling them something else. School-day and afterschool programs across the country have been implementing what are called social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for years. These programs support the development of social and emotional competencies such as problem solving, critical thinking, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and social awareness through both explicit SEL instruction (this is more common in school-day settings) and broader SEL strategies and practices (this is more common in afterschool settings). Although not termed as such, the social and emotional skills that these programs target are also key employability skills. In fact, the framework developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) bears a strong resemblance to OCTAE’s Employability Skills Framework.

As these two frameworks illustrate, there is a great deal of connection between social and emotional competencies and employability skills. Although not identical, when you dig deeper into the two frameworks, the alignment is clear. For example:

  • Interpersonal skills (OCTAE) and social awareness (CASEL) both require the ability to understand social norms and work with others from diverse backgrounds. 
  • Personal qualities (OCTAE) and self-awareness (CASEL) both require the ability to recognize one’s emotions and have a sense of confidence. 
  • Communication skills (OCTAE) and relationship skills (CASEL) both require the ability to communicate clearly, listen well, and resolve conflicts. 

Given these similarities, it makes sense that SEL programs that explicitly target the development of social and emotional competencies could also be considered workforce readiness programs or programs targeting the development of employability skills." 

You will note that these employability skills and SEL skills (above) are well aligned to the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs. You can review Beyond the Bell's entire paper by clicking here

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