Life skills and the workforce

Skills that foster success in the workforce are important to teach youth. Explore what those skills are and how adults can help youth gain these skills.

Whether you are working at a fulltime career, job or just for summer for extra spending cash, there is one thing in common. Youth and adults need to have skills to be successful in the workforce. Child Trends put together “Workforce Connections,” a publication that explores research and findings related to skills and workforce success.

Here are the key skills for workforce success:

  • Higher-order thinking includes problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making. It includes the ability to identify an issue and take information from multiple sources to evaluate options in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.
  • Communication includes oral, written, non-verbal and listening skills, which are really important for employers. Making sure youth have general communication skills also helps them develop other skills as well.
  • Positive self-concept includes self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-awareness and beliefs, as well as self-esteem and a sense of wellbeing and pride. Youth that demonstrate these skills will perform better at their work and be successful.
  • Self-control includes the ability to delay gratification, control impulses, direct and focus attention, manage emotions and regulate behaviors that are more successful. This skill is also the foundation that helps build on other skills.
  • Social skills are essential in working with others and in turn working in the current workforce. Social skills include respecting others, appropriate behavior and resolving conflict.

Workforce Connections” goes more in-depth and breaks down the skills looking at specific workforce outcomes.

Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program provides opportunities for 4-H members and leaders to build these skills while participating in hands-on learning through projects. The Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program wants youth to be successful and have the skills needed for the workforce.

If you are interested in helping youth gain these skills, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer in your community. If you know of any youth, encourage them to get involved with 4-H so they can develop skills to help them be successful.


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