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Skills Valued in PRACTICE – at What Level?

July 2019

The World Bank has published a Policy Research Working Paper (7123) on “Developing Socio-Emotional Skills for the Labour Market” based on the earlier developed PRACTICE model. The document provided a framework encompassing a) the employers’ view of useful skills, b) psychological-educational research on personal competencies and personality traits, and c) potential for specific skills to be developed in various phases of development from early childhood to young adulthood.

The example below shows how the skill “problem-solving” stems from skills, attitude and beliefs identified by employers which links to one of the Big Five (nowadays often extended to Big Six) Personality Traits and the neuro-biological foundation which is linked to a specific developmental phase.

The developmental phase of Emerging or Young Adulthood (19-29) is, of course, most relevant to those involved in Higher Education. The report notes that neuro-biological development in this phase has not been as well studied as earlier phases, but indicates that skills like ‘risk and reward calibration’, `prioritizing´, ‘thinking ahead’, ‘self-evaluation’, ‘long-term planning’, and ‘regulation of emotion’ are impacted by brain maturation in this later phase.

The full list of skills in the PRACTICE framework are:

Problem-solving Resilience Achievement motivation
Control Teamwork Initiative
Confidence Ethics  

What seems to be missing from the PRACTICE framework is a set of ‘progressive performance descriptors’ for each of these skills: intersubjective-qualitative descriptors of the typical behaviour of typical “weak”, “average” and “strong” individuals concerning the specific skill. These progressive performance descriptors are what makes the VALUE Rubrics for general and personal competencies so useful – although these seem less well connected to either the employers’ preferences or the psychological body of knowledge.

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