By Sam Piha
There are a growing number of tools to guide the design and improvement of youth programs. These come in the form of frameworks, program quality measurement tools, self-assessment or reflection surveys. Some are general in nature and some are very content-specific.
The striking thing about these frameworks is how closely they are aligned with character building and social emotional skills. For instance, take a look at the Employability Skills Framework. RTI International (RTI), one of the world’s leading independent, nonprofit research and development organization, developed an Employability Skills Framework for the U.S. Department of Education. This framework names the skills that employers are looking for. Below, we name the employability skills that have strong overlaps with character building and social emotional skills.
Laura Rasmussen Foster, Program Director of Adult Education Studies at RTI International, led the development of this framework. She will speak about it at the upcoming How Kids Learn V Conference in Berkeley. Below, she answers a few questions we had about the framework.
Q: Who was the intended audience and how do you hope this framework will be used?
A: The audience (educators, policy makers, and employers) is intentionally broad, as we recognize the importance of employability skills to all individuals and the need to integrate these skills into education and training programs across grade levels and content areas. Hopefully the framework can be used by these audiences in different ways to meet their specific needs. For example, teachers can review the framework skills, identify those that they already may be teaching and develop lessons for incorporating other skills. Employers can use it as a communication tool for explaining their skill needs to their education partners. Other tips for using the framework are described on audience-specific pages (see http://cte.ed.gov/employabilityskills/index.php/audience/educators, for the educators page, for example).
Q: Do you believe that it is useful and relevant for youth programs that happen in the out-of-school hours?
A: Yes, definitely. Employability skills are an essential component of college and career readiness, no matter where that preparation takes place. It is not just the responsibility of one career and technical education program or a single teacher to teach all of the framework skills. Instead, they can and should be integrated across educational levels and programs and reinforced in various contexts.
Q: This framework names several concepts we see in frameworks for character building, youth development, and social emotional learning. What are your thoughts on the overlap?
A: I’m not surprised about the overlap, as the framework builds on existing sets of skills, standards, and assessments – it was not intended as a new, separate set of skills. Hopefully the overlap helps you understand how youth programs are already addressing these skills and identify any gaps for further work!
To register for the How Kids Learn V Conference, visit www.howkidslearn.org or click the banner above.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.