Strengthening “Soft” Skills for Workforce Success

Learning from the JP Morgan Chase & Co. Summer Youth Employment Program Evaluation

young girl a sweaming coach on a pool
By Sarah Salimi, Ivonne Garcia

JPMorgan Chase & Co. began a learning and evaluation practice of its summer youth employment program (SYEP) portfolio in 2022. At the time, the organization was providing grant support to 27 organizations that offer summer work-readiness training to young people between the ages of 14 and 24, including social service agencies, community-based organizations, and economic development agencies.

JPMorgan Chase partnered with MDRC to promote continual improvement among these organizations through research. MDRC collected data in the form of interviews and metrics aggregated from nearly all providers. Afterward, MDRC invited 10 providers to share specific insights about a particular program component—soft-skills training. (“Soft skills” refer to the general habits and competencies that make for an effective employee, such as arriving at work on time, cooperating with coworkers, taking and giving direction, communicating clearly, dressing appropriately for the workplace, and so forth.) These providers were selected for such reasons as tenure in the field, depth of training reported in previous interviews and surveys, and responsiveness to MDRC’s email outreach.

Six SYEP providers responded to the invitation and are highlighted in this brief. The brief begins with an overview of the literature on the labor market value of soft skills, before explaining a particular type of labor market–advancement strategy: SYEPs. The brief then addresses how soft-skills training can be embedded successfully into the SYEP model and concludes with recommendations for the field. Ultimately, the findings presented in this brief are intended to showcase ways that soft-skills training, as a workforce development intervention, can put young people on the path to high-paying jobs and socio­economic advancement.

Document Details

Publication Type
May 2024
Salimi, Sarah and Ivonne Garcia. 2024. “Strengthening “Soft” Skills for Workforce Success.” New York: MDRC.