SEL and Workforce Preparation

Consider what it means for students to be prepared for the future. What will students need to know and be able to do to become college, career, and community ready?

Like academic skills, social and emotional competencies create a foundation for students to pursue their career and life goals. By aligning and integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) and workforce preparation efforts through an equity lens, states and districts can more intentionally promote the competencies and environments that will prepare youth to thrive and succeed in the workplace.

Our review of employer surveys found that SEL is essential to workforce development efforts and college, career, and community readiness. Employers are seeking employees who have social and emotional competencies, emphasizing communication and interpersonal skills, self-management skills, and the ability to collaborate or work in teams. Employers also desire workers who can solve problems, have respect for people from different backgrounds, and think critically and strategically to make wise and ethical decisions. These combined findings highlight the role SEL can play to ensure students are ready for the workforce. Read our 2020 report.

State and district leaders can explicitly embed social and emotional skills into career and technical education programs, internships, apprenticeships, work-based learning, career pathways, dual enrollment, and other efforts to promote youth success. Through better alignment and connections, we can begin to transform how students are prepared to succeed in work and life. Read our 2022 policy roadmap to bridge SEL and career and workforce development.

State Spotlight: Watch the video series from the Rhode Island Department of Education connecting each SEL competency to the workplace.

How is CASEL advancing this work?

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Collaborating States Initiative

Our goal is for SEL to be integrated with workforce preparation across all 50 states. Through our state partnerships, we launched the SEL and Workforce initiative in 2020, strategically supporting teams in eight states (Delaware, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin), in partnership with national collaborators. States are seeking greater understanding about how to support students within the school context, while at the same time preparing them for the future of work.

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