Hard and Soft Skills in Vocational Training: Experimental Evidence from Columbia
We randomly assign applicants to over-subscribed programs to study the effects of teaching hard and soft skills in vocational training and examine their impacts on skills acquisition and labor market outcomes using both survey and administrative data.
We find that providing vocational training that either emphasizes social or technical skills increases formal employment for both men and women. We also find that admission to a vocational program that emphasizes technical relative to social skills increases overall employment and also days and hours worked in the short term. Yet, emphasis on soft-skills training helps applicants increase employment and monthly wages over the longer term and allows them to catch up with those learning hard skills.
Further, through a second round of randomization, we find that offering financial support for transportation and food increases the effectiveness of the program, indicating that resource constraints may be an obstacle for individuals considering vocational training.
Felipe Barrera-Osorio (PhD) is associate professor at Vanderbilt University.
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