Author: Sarah Gates, Laura Lippman, Noel Shadowen, Holly Burke, Obed Diener, Morrisa Malkin, and FHI 360
Full Citation: Gates, S., Lippman, L., Shadowen, N., Burke, H., Diener, O., & Malkin, M. (2016). Key soft skills for cross-sectoral youth outcomes. Washington, DC: USAID’s YouthPower: Implementation, YouthPower Action.
Overview: This report aims to identify the core soft skills that would create positive outcomes across important areas of youth’s lives, including workforce success, violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). The hypothesis tested by this research is that there is a common set of soft skills that lead to positive outcomes across multiple domains.
Methodology: The authors of this study reviewed many types of resources, including rigorous empirical studies, meta-analyses, literature reviews, and qualitative literature. The authors also consulted experts in the field, including practitioners and researchers. The evidence gathered included resources that examined the relationship between soft skills and violence prevention outcomes, including general aggressive behavior, bullying and cyberbullying, violent crime, group and gang-related violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV). In addition, resources were gathered that analyzed the relationship between soft skills and key SRH outcomes, including risky and protective sexual behaviors, pregnancy and birth, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and gender-based violence.
Findings: As a result of the analysis, the authors identified five critical soft skills that international youth development programs could commonly target to improve workforce outcomes. The report found that the soft skills most likely to increase odds of youth success across all key workforce outcomes include: self-control, positive self-concept, social skills, communication, and higher order thinking skills.