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The Job Readiness and 21st Century Skills Initiative

Identify. Assess. Improve: The Job Readiness and 21st Century Skills Initiative

Business leaders in the United States and around the world continue to struggle in hiring prepared and skilled workers. At a time when many in the baby boom generation are approaching retirement, employers need a pipeline of qualified candidates so they can continue to compete and fuel the global economy.

ETS is working toward solutions to this complex worldwide issue through our research on job readiness and skills needed for the 21st century. Our objectives are to:

  1. Identify the critical skills necessary for success in today's job market
  2. Develop methods to assess those skills
  3. Provide information to guide current and future employees worldwide to improve their job skills

A major focus of this initiative is to determine the relationship between the skills required for a job and the skills being taught in schools. These skills include both cognitive (e.g., proficiency in mathematics) and noncognitive factors (e.g., personality, attitudes, values, beliefs). It is essential that the educational system — K–12 as well as higher education — assesses job skills so that students will be prepared for the job market and its demands.

Although cognitive skills assessments continue to be important in predicting academic and workplace success, educators and employers have recognized the growing impact and influence of noncognitive assessment. We are focusing our research on this exciting area to provide a more complete picture of an individual's abilities and potential.

Since 2000, ETS has advanced the field by conducting research, publishing papers and giving presentations on job readiness and 21st century skills. As we explore innovative methods and constructs, our goal is to bring these innovations to noncognitive skills assessments for learners, employees and prospective employees.

Comprehensive and Far-reaching in Scope

Broad in scope, the job readiness and 21st century skills initiative comprises four major areas of study:

  • 21st century skills development and use in higher education
  • Global job readiness constructs for credentialing
  • New measures and methods in global job readiness assessments
  • The impact of global policy on job readiness

We are exploring many potential applications for this work, both in the United States and globally.

ETS's Commitment to Lifelong Learning

ETS is committed to the study and advancement of lifelong learning and professional development. We are examining the impact of education and learning on job readiness and the potential for success. Understanding the skills and abilities that are most predictive of occupational success will help us to develop fair and valid assessments, ensuring that the students of today will be the capable employees of the future.

In addition, ETS can help identify current employees who do not have the skills necessary for success on the job. Interventions to strengthen their skills can then be developed and effectiveness of remedial training can be measured.

Through the job readiness and 21st century skills initiative, ETS is addressing the needs and demands of the domestic and global workplace while advancing quality and equity in education for people throughout their lives.

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