Work Readiness Competencies

Work readiness competencies include the general attributes required for someone to be successful in maintaining employment of all kinds. These attributes, often called “soft skills,” are usually in such areas as attendance and punctuality, dependability, professionalism, initiative, oral and written communications, teamwork or collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. Employers frequently say that these are the competencies they most expect in applicants for entry-level positions, and it is these competencies that often make the difference in whether a participant is able to accomplish job retention goals. 

Programs should use multiple ways to help participants understand and experience these expectations of the workplace and to demonstrate that they are developing those competencies. (For more information, see “Create a Workplace Environment” in the Managing Service Delivery section of this portal.) Programs can further reinforce these expectations as they provide follow-up job retention services.

A key workplace readiness indicator is participants’ attendance and punctuality while receiving services, including internships or other work experience activities. Programs should set clear attendance and tardiness policies, modeling the high expectations of area employers, and including a process of rewards and consequences if policies are met or not met. Meeting a program attendance “standard” should be one of the requirements for a participant to “complete” the program.

Program staff should also have a clear process for monitoring participant attendance and tardiness on a weekly basis so they can quickly follow up on issues that need to be addressed. On an aggregate basis, programs should also be looking at these questions:

  • What is our daily attendance rate (the number of participants who attend divided by the number expected on a given day)? Is it increasing?
  • What are the primary reasons why participants are absent or tardy? What do we need to do to better address those?
  • How does the rate vary over the course of a week? 
  • How many participants are meeting the program attendance requirements each cycle, including communication with appropriate staff? 

Attendance is just one of several important work readiness factors that programs should monitor, providing feedback in ways that also model the performance assessment process of the workplace. A sample tool provided here can be used during and at the end of program services or as part of an internship experience.



Sources Cited

The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Society for Human Resource Management. (2010). US Work Readiness Survey [Data file]. 

This report is based on data from the US Workforce Readiness Survey conducted by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Society for Human Resource Management.