SRI International

The Working Stronger and Smarter Handbook from SRI International provides learning principles and instructional practices ideas for educators and employers to help technical education students build employability skills.

What This Includes

Skills addressed: Effective Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Collaboration, Teamwork, Adaptability, Goal Setting, Cultural Awareness, Lifelong Learning, Situational Awareness

Working Stronger and Smarter Handbook

  • Introductory chapter on the five high-priority employability skills for Technical Education
  • Description of seven instructional techniques, or learning principles, for classroom and on-the-job instruction
  • Chapter on the “preparatory stage,” or awareness of employability skills, for learners and workers
  • Chapters on the “foundational stage,” or classroom practice; the “apprentice stage,” with work-based experience; and the “workforce-ready stage,” with ongoing opportunities to build skills
  • Logic model shows how changes in technician workplaces drive demand for employability skills
  • Appendices with the research processes and resources that formed the basis for this product

Key Takeaways

  • The five high-priority workplace success skills for technicians are: interpersonal or teamwork skills; communication skills; orientation to lifelong learning; adapting to workplace expectation; and situational awareness, or understanding how a job fits into project and/or business goals.
  • Adult educators, workforce development instructors, and technical instructors can use the curriculum ideas to build a new employability skills course or add content to an existing course.
  • Educators can work with employers to coordinate work-based learning experiences to support employees with workplace success skill gaps.
  • The handbook offers special considerations in each chapter for historically underrepresented groups and spotlights specific strategies educators and employers can take to reduce bias and promote the success and inclusion of people of color, women, older adults, and English Language Learners in technical fields.
  • Classroom skills practice uses simulated workplace experiences to allow for time to explain and confront misconceptions about the skills, practice them, offer support, and follow up with reflection exercises and feedback from peers and the instructor.

SRI Education, a division of SRI International, addresses complex issues in education and provides research-based solutions to challenges posed by rapid social, technological, and economic change. This handbook was the result of research which aimed to clarify the drivers of the demand for employability skills, which skills are most important for technicians, what learning principles and instructional practices support their development, and what approaches to employability skills development can support improved diversity in technician fields. This work was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program.

Adaptability & Flexibility


Leadership & Initiative

Respecting Differences

Teamwork & Collaboration

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