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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ODEP News Release: [02/09/2012]
Contact Name: Gloria Della or Bennett Gamble
Phone Number: (202) 693-4679 or x4667
Release Number: 12-0252-NAT

US Labor Departmentís Office of Disability Employment Policy releases comprehensive soft skills curriculum for young workers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy today announced the release of "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success," a collection of career development exercises and activities designed to help sharpen the communication and other "soft" skills of young workers, including those with disabilities.

ODEP's curriculum, which covers communication, networking, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and professionalism, is based on the results of a survey of prominent businesses to determine what they believe to be the most important competencies and skills for young workers. According to recent surveys, nearly three-quarters of employers indicated high school graduates were deficient in such basic skills as punctuality, verbal communication and working productively with others. Businesses across the nation have identified soft skills as crucial to the hiring and employment success of all workers.

"Dressing appropriately, showing up on time and networking with co-workers are all crucial to finding and keeping a job," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "For many young people these skills are not intuitive. We hope educators, human resource professionals, job clubs and faith-based organizations will use the curriculum to help our youth build the skills to succeed in the workplace."

Available in English and Spanish, "Skills to Pay the Bills" was field-tested by youth service professionals and students across the country. The Massachusetts Migrant Education Program tested the materials in Spanish and seven other locations tested them in English. "The Soft Skills activities are fabulous," said Virginia Dever, a facilitator from Louisville, Ky. "It is our obligation to teach our youth what is needed to succeed in life and in work, and these Soft Skills exercises fit the bill." Brandon Pursley, a student from Madison, Fla., who used the curriculum and also designed its cover art, said that learning these skills "was an experience going beyond my dreams."

Visit ODEP's website at http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/ for more information and to download the curriculum in English or Spanish.