New Report Maps Out How Research Can Raise the Bar on Developing Adults' Skills for Success in 21st Century Careers

Mar 08, 2016, 12:00 ET from SRI International

MENLO PARK, Calif., March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- SRI Education, a division of SRI International, and The Joyce Foundation have released a report that discusses how evidence-based research provides guidance for promoting personal success skills for adults who are striving to build sustainable 21st century careers.

In the United States today, there are millions of people unemployed and underemployed—making economic stability out of reach for themselves and their families. These numbers are not solely driven by lack of education or technical knowledge, but also by a broad need in the workforce to develop adults' personal success skills.

Personal success skills are the capabilities that enable adults to deal with the challenges, relationships, transitions, and social systems that make up working life. Important abilities include basic job readiness, self-directed learning, self-management, personal responsibility, effective communication, career management, and everyday problem solving.

"In our world of rapidly changing technology, workforce needs, and economic conditions, people need well-developed personal success skills to get good jobs and keep them," said Nicole Shechtman, senior researcher for SRI Education and lead author on the report.

The research team talked to a wide variety of experts and did a broad review of the research literature.

"The good news is that we found extensive research that shows that adults are capable of developing and enhancing their personal success skills throughout their working years. We also found many great approaches to supporting adults' growth and development."

A pertinent key research finding is that having a "growth mindset"— understanding that adults can grow and learn with effort, good strategies, and support from others—is important for the development of personal success skills. Research also shows that adults can learn to have a growth mindset, which can strengthen a person's persistence when faced with challenges of learning, as well as boost success.

"This report brings greater clarity to what we mean by 'personal success skills,' and even more important, shows that it is still possible to develop these skills well into adulthood," said Matthew Muench, Senior Program Officer at the Joyce Foundation. "We hope this report will be a call to action for leaders in education, business, and human services who are looking for the most effective strategies to prepare working-age adults for sustainable 21st century jobs."

In addition, the report provides specific insights and recommendations that address widespread barriers to providing effective and affordable supports for the development of the personal success skills necessary to build sustainable careers. Some key recommendations include:

  • All stakeholders—practitioners, researchers and policymakers—should become informed about the promise that the learning sciences hold for adult learning. The report provides a quick primer and pointers to key readings.
  • Practitioners should foster social supports for adults to develop personal success skills through supervisory relationships and peer networks, as well as organizational or educational practices that provide opportunities for adults to practice and receive feedback in real-world contexts.
  • Researchers should advance the research base on the programs, interventions, practices, and technologies that are effective and affordable for promoting the development of personal success skills for chronically unemployed and underemployed adults.
  • Funders and policymakers should invest in ensuring that research-based approaches to building personal success skills are readily accessible and affordable, as well as invest in programs and practices that promote the development of personal success skills.

Personal success skills development is only one of many strategies that society needs to apply in order to narrow gaps in opportunity, income, education, and other factors critical to people's well-being. However, as part of a many-pronged approach in education, workforce development, and social services, strengthening individuals' personal success skills can provide adults with powerful levers for succeeding in the working world.

About SRI International

SRI International creates world-changing solutions making people safer, healthier, and more productive. SRI, a research center headquartered in Menlo Park, California, works primarily in advanced technology and systems, biosciences, computing, and education. SRI brings its innovations to the marketplace through technology licensing, spin-off ventures and new product solutions.

About the Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation works with grantee partners to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society.  Established in Chicago in 1948, Joyce believes a community is healthiest when benefits are shared widely among its people. Joyce grant making focuses primarily on six Great Lakes states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, although its investments often have broader implications given the interplay between policies at local, state and federal levels. To learn more, please visit or follow @JoyceFdn.


SOURCE SRI International