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Human Skills Workshop report and videos now available

Posted: March 2020

The report from our March 2020 Human Skills Workshop is now available for download. This report provides an overview of the March 2020 Human Skills Workshop (HSX), including key takeaways and insights from the workshop's expert panels. You can also view the full videos from the Human Skills Workshop.

Human Skills Workshop featured in Boston University News Services

Posted: March 6, 2020

The following is an excerpt from the article: “In formal education and other realms of life, the evidence we collect is not always closely aligned with the skills that we really value,” said Louisa Rosenheck, associate director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Playful Journey Lab, at an interactive workshop focused on human skills Wednesday. “Human Skills: From Conversations to Convergence,” organized by the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), invited prominent thought leaders from academia, public policy, industry and edtech for a collaborative workshop at the MIT Samberg Conference Center to discuss what is increasingly sought after in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields: human skills." Read the article in full.

Human Skills Workshop speakers to include Namrata Kala, Momtchil Kovatchev, Louisa Rosenheck, Richard Varn

Posted: February 11, 2020

J-WEL is pleased to announce four new speakers for our upcoming workshop, Human Skills: From Conversation to Convergence. Namrata Kala, Momtchil Kovatchev, Louisa Rosenheck, and Richard Varn will participate on our panel, "Human Skills: How to Assess?". To see additional speakers, visit our program page. Have a look at their bios below! 

To register for the workshop, visit the event site. Early Bird registration closes Wednesday, February 12th.

Human Skills: From Conversations to Convergence will explore “human skills” - the social and higher-order thinking skills that are essential to success in today’s dynamic organizations and in the future of work. 

Speaker Bios

Namrata Kala

Namrata Kala

W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professor of Management
Assistant Professor, Applied Economics
Sloan School of Management

Namrata Kala is the W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professor of Management and an Assistant Professor in Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She is an economist with research interests in environmental and development economics. She received her PhD in environmental economics from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale. Read more.



Momtchil Kovatchev

Associate Professor
Hult International Business School

Momtchil Kovatchev is an Associate Professor at Hult, teaching in the area of analytics, data visualization, value selling and pricing strategy. He has held various roles at Hult as Global Head of Insights and Analytics, and Global Head of Business Intelligence and most recently as VP of Strategic Initiatives. Read more.


Louisa Rosenheck

Louisa Rosenheck

Associate Director
MIT Playful Journeys Lab

Louisa Rosenheck manages the design, content, and development of a wide array of educational technology projects. She brings the playfulness of games into her assessment design work, creating digital and non-digital tools to help both students and teachers assess creative work and soft skills. She holds an EdM in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Read more.


Richard Varn

Richard Varn

Distinguished Presidential Appointee
Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Richard Varn is a Distinguished Presidential Appointee with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is part of the Strategy, Marketing, and Growth team. He directs the Center for Advanced Technology and Neuroscience, leads the ETS Innovation Lab, and works on several new product development teams. He came to ETS after serving as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the City of San Antonio. Read more.


Join us on March 4, 2020, for our upcoming workshop, “Human Skills: From Conversations to Convergence”

Posted: January 30, 2020

On March 4, 2020, J-WEL will offer a workshop bringing together leaders in workforce learning - academic, business, non-profit, and government --  to explore Human Skills -- the social and higher-order thinking skills that are essential to success in the dynamic organizations of today and tomorrow. The event, “Human Skills: From Conversations to Convergence,” will be held on the MIT campus on March 4, 2020, from 8:45 am to 5 pm, followed by a reception.

While STEM skills are valuable, they can depreciate rapidly. Human skills are longer-lasting, but also more difficult to train and assess. During this highly interactive workshop, which is currently open for registration, participants will explore the value of human skills and cutting-edge ways to train and assess them across the workforce learning ecosystem.

“We’re really excited about this event,” explains J-WEL Principal Research Scientist George Westerman. “There are many different ways to define human skills and not enough agreement on how to teach and measure them. We hope to foster a conversation, and a network of interested leaders, who can start to converge on good approaches.”

Registration for the event is now open. Confirmed speakers include Jean Hammond (LearnLaunch), Charlie Bodwell (International Labour Organization), and Namrata Kala (MIT). The event will be followed by a reception. We encourage all professionals who care about workforce learning and human skills -- from corporations, schools and universities, non-profit organizations or EdTech companies to join us at this exciting event. J-WEL members interested in attending should email us.


MIT J-WEL Releases New Framework for Understanding Uniquely Human Skills Under an Open License

Researchers interviewed experts and compared 41 frameworks to develop a new model of Human Skills

Posted: January 29, 2020

As AI, automation, and other emerging technologies increasingly transform industries, workers are scrambling to understand the uniquely human value they can bring to the workplace—value that will keep them in demand throughout their careers. Today, researchers at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (MIT J-WEL) have released a new tool to help workers, and those who teach and employ them, to better understand and develop these “human skills.” Called the Human Skills Matrix, this framework provides a synthesis of the best thinking in the field.

“There is so much variation in what people call these skills: social skills, soft skills, power skills, transverse skills, etc.  And there’s even more variation in the skills that these frameworks highlight,” remarked J-WEL Principal Research Scientist George Westerman “That’s why we undertook this effort—to identify and structure a set of human skills that we can believe in, and that others might find useful.”

The Human Skills Matrix (HSX) is being released under an open license that allows educators, non-profits, and companies to build on the framework. The HSX is available on the J-WEL website at http://jwel.mit.edu/hsx. The site also contains a teaching guide for an exemplar workshop developed by the MIT team that helps learners to understand and develop a subset of the human skills.

"Human Skills don’t replace critical STEM skills. They make them better.  Yet they are often omitted from STEM training for children or technical training for adults." According to Westerman, “To thrive in today’s organizations, technical training is not enough; you need strong human skills too.  We need to put the H in STEM.”

The HSX resulted from more than a year of research. The MIT team surveyed literature to identify work already conducted in the domain and then interviewed faculty, employers, and other thought leaders about the non-technical skills needed to thrive in organizations and adapt to future jobs. The team identified 41 frameworks published by multiple entities—HR firms, corporations, educational organizations and institutions, research partnerships between educational institutions and corporations, labor organizations, social media surveys, and government organizations. The analysis of the literature, interviews, and other frameworks produced a list of 44 items across four categories of skills. To refine and validate this list, the researchers invited thirty individuals— experts from human resources, post-secondary education, workforce, public policy, and research—to rank and select the most important skills. Taken together, the findings led to the development of the 2 x 2 Human Skills Matrix containing 24 skills, within a meta-level 2x2 framework of four key areas 1) thinking, 2) interacting, 3) managing ourselves, and 4) leading.

On March 4, J-WEL will offer a workshop, “Human Skills: From Conversations to Convergence,” to be held on the MIT campus. It is open for registration at https://jwel.mit.edu/human-skills. During the event, experts such as Jean Hammond (LearnLaunch), Charlie Bodwell (International Labour Organization), and Namrata Kala (MIT) will provide perspective for useful conversations about these skills: what they are, how to teach them, and how to measure them.  We encourage all professionals who care about workforce learning and human skills—from corporations, schools and universities, non-profit organizations or edtechs—to join us in this event.