Towards the Development of An Assessment of Employability Skills

As the world faces higher and higher unemployment rates among its youth, there is increasing interest in evaluating whether schools are adequately preparing their youth to enter the workforce. Do early school leavers (those leaving by Grade 9) possess the “foundational” and “employability” skills needed to effectively enter the workforce? Assessment instruments for literacy and mathematics appropriate to the end of the primary cycle do exist. However these tend to be in depth, large scale, regional or national assessments and not the rapid assessments that EGRA/EGMA are. In addition, these tools only measure some foundational skills, such as reading and math. Previous investigation on employability skills identified three “clusters” of commonly cited skills in the international literature: cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills. These three clusters align favorably with the three domains specified by the Committee on Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills, convened by the US-based National Research Council, as well as other prominent models. A subset of these skills could be assessed, in combination with foundational skills such as literacy and mathematics, in order to ascertain whether or not youth of secondary school age (i.e. around 15–18 years of age) are finishing their tenure in formal schooling with at least a modicum of “work readiness” skills. This report describes a framework for understanding and measuring employability skills.