Employability Skills Framework


Standards and Assessments Used to Develop the Framework

Primary sources used to develop the framework are shown below.
View the Source Matrix to see the skills identified by each initiative.

  • 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success, NOCTI (PDF, 411 KB) NOCTI provides occupational competency assessment products and services to secondary and postsecondary educational institutions. It offers assessments for measuring 21st century skills for the workplace and workplace readiness, in addition to technical assessments aligned with the Career Clusters.
  • Arizona's New Workplace Skills, Arizona Department of Education (PDF, 6 MB) The Arizona Skills Standards Commission and its partners conducted 11 statewide forums with more than 100 employers in the state to gather feedback on the employability skills considered most important for the workplace. The Commission’s report documents nine workplace skill standards that emerged from the forums, as well as information collected from employers during the process.
  • Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S), Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft Sponsored by Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft (and headquartered at the University of Melbourne), the ATC21S is a three-year project to develop a framework that serves as a model for developing international assessments of 21st century skills. ATC21S classifies 21st century skills into four broad categories: ways of thinking, ways of working, tools for working, and skills for living in the world.
  • Assessing 21st Century Skills, Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA), the National Research Council BOTA convened an ad hoc committee to synthesize research on and identify 21st century skills and a steering committee to investigate options for assessing these skills. Workshops were held in 2007, 2009, and 2011 to review data on employer demand for transferable skills, explore how 21st century skills are currently being taught in core subjects, and consider research on existing assessments. The committee’s findings are presented in workshop summary reports.
  • Career Ready Practices, Common Career Technical Core, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium The Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) includes a set of standards for each of the 16 Career Clusters and outlines common national benchmarks for the skills and knowledge necessary to complete career and technical education programs of study. A component of the CCTC, the Career Ready Practices outline 12 general workforce readiness skills common to all career areas, to be taught in conjunction with technical skills.
  • Citizenship Foundation Skills and Knowledge Clusters, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (PDF, 765 KB) The Citizenship Foundation Skills and Knowledge Clusters highlights the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for the naturalization process, including a knowledge and understanding of the English language and the ability to locate information and resources.
  • Common Employability Skills, National Network of Business and Industry Associations (PDF, 474 KB) With support from national foundations and industry representatives, the National Network of Business and Industry Associations identified core skills in four competency areas: personal skills, people skills, applied knowledge, and workplace skills.
  • Comparative Analysis of Soft Skills: What Is Important for New Graduates?, U.S. Department of Agriculture This report summarizes the results of a survey conducted by researchers at Michigan State University to identify the soft skills needed for success in careers related to agriculture and natural resources. Surveyed students, faculty, and alumni at 31 universities and 282 employers nationwide.
  • Employability Assessment Rubric, Chicago Public Schools In collaboration with the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, the Chicago Public Schools developed a rubric to assess employability skills and determine students’ readiness for work. The rubric focuses on a core set of skills that can be observed and measured.
  • Employability Skills 2000+, Conference Board of Canada Employability Skills 2000+ was developed by members of The Conference Board of Canada’s Employability Skills Forum and the Business and Education Forum on Science, Technology, and Mathematics to define the critical skills required for employment in Canada.
  • Employability Skills Blueprint, Skills USA (PDF, 109 KB) SkillsUSA, a partnership of students, teachers, and industry members, developed the Work Force Ready System to provide technical assessments that measure student readiness for employment in specific industries, as well as a general assessment of employability skills (the Skills Connect Employability Skills Assessment).
  • Equipped for the Future (EFF), Center for Literacy Studies, University of Tennessee With support from the National Institute for Literacy, the Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee created EFF in 1995 to develop a framework and content standards for adult education. The EFF Content Standards define the knowledge and skills that adults need to perform three roles: citizen/community member, parent/family member, and worker.
  • Industry Competency Models, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor Developed in collaboration with business leaders and educators, the industry competency models depict the employability and technical skills required to obtain jobs in various industries. The models are based on a framework-the building blocks-which are then tailored for specific industries. The first three (of seven) tiers of the building blocks framework depict the skills needed for entry-level employment.
  • Maryland Skills for Success, Maryland State Department of Education (PDF, 218 KB) Maryland’s standards include a set of foundational, adaptive skills that are common across all academic disciplines and defined as necessary to succeed in the workplace. They include effective learning skills, clear and creative thinking, communication, technological literacy, and effective collaboration with others.
  • National Career Clusters Framework, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium The National Career Clusters Framework provides a tool for designing curriculum and instruction to prepare students for careers in the 16 clusters, representing approximately 79 different career pathways and including the more than 970 occupations identified by O*NET. The Essential Knowledge and Skill Statements outline the competencies common across all Career Clusters.
  • National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) Based on ACT’s WorkKeys assessments, the NCRC is an industry-recognized, portable work readiness credential measuring skills in three areas: applied mathematics, locating information, and reading for information. The certificate is designed to verify that individuals have the cognitive skills necessary to succeed in employment or training programs.
  • National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC), National Work Readiness Council (PDF, 2 MB) The NWRC certifies individuals’ readiness for entry-level employment, based on skills defined by the Equipped for the Future Content Standards and validated by employers. It is administered as a web-based test, with multiple-choice questions, and provides a single summary score that measures performance across nine skill areas.
  • O*NET, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor The O*NET database catalogs occupational information, including requirements and worker attributes, for 970 occupations. Occupational data were collected from a random sample of businesses in specific industries and a random sample of workers in certain occupations within the selected businesses. These data support the online O*NET database, which allows users to learn about occupations and access career exploration tools.
  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) P21 is a national advocacy organization working to improve students’ readiness to succeed as workers and citizens. P21 provides tools and resources for developing standards, curriculum and instruction, and assessments related to 21st century skills. The Framework for Learning in the 21st Century includes core subjects and 21st century themes; learning and innovation skills; information, media, and technology skills; information, communications, and technology literacy; and life and career skills.
  • Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), U.S. Department of Labor (PDF, 283 KB) In 1990, the U.S. Secretary of Labor appointed a commission to identify the skills needed for success in "high performance" workplaces and to design strategies for teaching and assessing these skills. The Commission included representatives from business, labor, and educational organizations.
  • Workforce Skills Certification System (WSCS), CASAS and Learning Resources, Inc. The WSCS certifies individuals’ abilities to perform entry-level jobs based on assessments of their academic and soft skills. It offers both a workforce skills certificate, which certifies work readiness, and a workforce skills profile, which documents the skills and abilities of job candidates. Skills are aligned with SCANS and O*NET skills, with academic skills assessed by CASAS and soft skills assessed by Learning Resources, Inc.