State SEL and Workforce Initiative

The integration of social and emotional learning (SEL) and workforce in education policy has been a strategic priority of CASEL’s Collaborating States Initiative (CSI) since 2019.

The successful integration of SEL and workforce development advances our vision to prepare all students for success as lifelong, engaged learners and effective contributors to the complex future they will inherit, including in their future work lives — as entrepreneurs, business owners, or employees.

We know the future of work is quickly changing and is even more uncertain now than it was just a year ago. Top companies are increasingly emphasizing the importance of SEL for success in the next generation of employees and entrepreneurs.

In 2022, CASEL, CIVIC,  and the Coalition for Career Development Center released the groundbreaking report for policymakers on integrating SEL and career and workforce development, “Educating Future-Ready Students: Policy Roadmap to Bridge Social and Emotional Learning and Career and Workforce Development.”

The initiative is supported by Pure Edge, Inc.. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

How is the Collaborating States Initiative (CSI) advancing this work?

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Through our state partnerships, we launched the SEL and Career and Workforce Initiative in 2020, strategically supporting teams in eight states (Delaware, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin) through a Community of Practice, in partnership with our national collaborators (including John Bridgeland and his team at Civic, and Scott Solberg and his team at the Coalition for Career Development). This work continues to expand across all 50 states.

States are advancing this integration in partnership with CASEL through consultations, reviews of resources, and connections to experts. Our deep collaboration is resulting in key learnings and resources available on our resource library. Learn more about SEL and Career and Workforce Development through examples from CASEL, states, and districts.

What is the aim of this work?

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We aim to provide students with the foundation for a lifetime of success. CASEL defines career and workforce development in education broadly to include career and technical education (CTE), project-based learning, community service and service learning, field trips, job shadowing, mock interviews, career mentoring, career development courses, individual career and academic planning, work-based learning experience, simulated work-based experiences through districts, internships and externships (including virtually), apprenticeships, and entrepreneurship/ownership.

Together, SEL and career and workforce development can strengthen one another by finding ways to align and integrate practices through an equity lens to more intentionally promote the competencies and environments youth need to thrive in school as they prepare for the workforce. Developing social and emotional skills within equitable learning environments are particularly important now as we work to identify and elevate strong policies to address inequities in youth employment and engage in economic revival.

Employee social and emotional skills that are in demand from employers map to the social and emotional competencies

Read more: Preparing Youth for the Workforce of Tomorrow

      • Positive attitude
      • Flexibility
      • Ability to apply skills to real-life settings
      • Openness to developing/learning new skills
      • Sense of self-worth
      • Ability to innovate
      • Confident
      • Creativity
      • Commitment
      • Shows flexibility
      • Initiative
      • Strong work ethic
      • Works well under pressure
      • Time management
      • Entrepreneurial thinking
      • Punctuality
      • Reliability
      • Ability to work independently
      • Organizational skills
      • Detail-oriented
      • Adaptability
      • Strategic planning (e.g., setting and achieving goals)
      • Budgeting
      • Self-discipline
      • Cross-cultural sensitivity
      • Ability to work with people of different backgrounds/cultures
      • Supervision of others
      • Respects individual differences
      • Written and oral communication skills
      • Effective communication
      •  Listening skills
      • Ability to collaborate
      • Conflict resolution
      • Management skills
      • Teamwork and works well with others
      • Responds to customer needs
      • Integrity
      • Critical thinking
      • Honesty
      • Reasoning
      • Analyze and solve complex problems
      • Ability to evaluate information from multiple sources
      • Civic participation and engagement
      • Ethical and sound decision-making
      • Observes carefully

What is the developmental framework for this work?

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In 2022, CASEL released a brief is to introduce a developmental framework for states working to systemically integrate evidence-based SEL with career and workforce development efforts.

This developmental framework aims to assist all states seeking to integrate SEL with career and workforce development efforts systemically so SEAs can support districts and schools in preparing students for postsecondary success.

Additional tools and resources

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  • Educating Future-Ready Students: Policy Roadmap to Bridge Social and Emotional Learning and Career and Workforce Development (Access the report)
  • State Case Studies: SEL with Career and Workforce Development  (Access the case studies)
  • The Playbook to Leverage the Power of Communities of Practice (Access the playbook)
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