New resources funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation offer insights on an approach to workforce development that seeks to strengthen young people’s executive skills — the cognitive abilities needed to set goals, develop plans and follow through on them.

The resources — a case study, tool kit and video — draw on the nonprofit New Moms’s efforts to incorporate executive-skills building into its programs that help young mothers in the Chicago area gain job skills, support a family and find quality housing.

“Building executive skills can help young people as they seek to start careers and plan for their futures,” says Allison Gerber, a senior associate at the Casey Foundation. “We’d like to see more workforce programs consider including strategies that support the development of these skills as a part of their approaches.”

The case study, Implementing an Executive Skills Approach: Insights for the Field, starts with a summary of the key components of New Moms’s work, which includes:

  • introducing environmental modifications, or changes to work-related materials, physical spaces, procedures, policies or processes to make tasks easier to complete;
  • building executive-skills knowledge by asking employees to explore their strengths and weaknesses in
  • accomplishing goals, planning and organization, among other things;
  • coaching participants to help ensure they meet their objectives;
  • tracking goals so that progress is made on both short- and long-term objectives; and
  • using incentives to entice participants to improve performance and gain new skills.

To help workforce staff blend executive-skills building into their work, the Executive Skills Implementation Toolkit includes various items, such as surveys, checklists and other resources meant to jumpstart the process. A readiness assessment, for instance, offers suggestions for implementing executive-skills building based on how prepared programs are to move forward given the support of organizational leadership and staff, among other things.

Read the full article about executive skills building at The Annie E. Casey Foundation.