To land a good job, candidates need the right skills, experience and qualifications; but in a competitive labor market, those assets alone are often not enough. Most successful job seekers leverage another major resource to secure a job: their networks.

In many cases, who you know matters just as much as—if not more than—what you know.

The benefits that derive from networks, relationships and connections are known as social capital. As with other types of capital, social capital can be leveraged as a currency—particularly in the job market—and is often distributed unequally across individuals.

A 2020 LinkedIn survey found that 73% of respondents had been hired as a result of someone they knew making an introduction or a connection. By some estimates, as many as two-thirds of jobs are never posted; companies instead hire from within or rely on referrals to fill roles.

Here’s the problem: we’re not teaching this critical skill in our schools.

While career preparation has been thrust to the top of many state legislative and school district agendas, social capital is nearly always a missing ingredient. Good progress is being made putting new career pathways in place and expanding internship and apprenticeship opportunities, but if students never develop the ability to build networks and use them to advance their career goals, many of them will struggle to land well-paying jobs in their chosen fields. Employers will also miss out on qualified talent and meaningful opportunities to diversify their talent pool.

The truth is that networking and relationship building is not something that schools have typically considered to be within their purview. Nor is it something that’s easy to define and teach. But if we’re serious about equipping all young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the education and skills they need to achieve economic mobility, we can’t overlook the importance of social capital.

Read the full article about social capital for education systems by Matt Gandal at Forbes.