PAIRIN: Using Data to Break Down Soft Skill Barriers to Employment
PAIRIN is an online suite of tools that personalizes soft-skill development, career exploration and job matching. By eliminating unconscious bias and focusing on competency-based hiring, the tool helps break down barriers to employment for disadvantaged populations. Workforce development programs use PAIRIN products to measure clients soft-skills, match to optimal job profiles and develop the career readiness skills to become well prepared, gainfully employed, and self-sufficient. PAIRIN’s data helps coaches better assess and support growth of adult learners’ skills and mindsets as they prepare to enter more meaningful careers with family-sustaining wages. Here’s what we learned:
- Soft skills and mindsets can be validated, measured, and developed. The PAIRIN Survey measures over 100 coachable and changeable behaviors and is based on extensive psychological research.
- PAIRIN provides a common language around soft skill development: Employers, workforce development program providers, educators, and adult learners/job seekers need a common language to identify essential skill gaps and support goal setting. PAIRIN found a way to take psychological data and make it accessible to all.
- Coaching makes the assessment data relevant and actionable: Self-assessment data alone can be daunting to adult learners. While learners who understand the purpose of the assessment can gain basic insights to their mindsets when reviewing their results independently, reviewing with someone who has a coaching background/training is optimal for translating the data into actionable goals.
Field Testing PAIRIN:
For field testing, we wanted to learn how workforce development professionals can use PAIRIN tools to better serve adult working learners earning low wages by measuring and developing the soft-skills critical to persisting and advancing in education and employment. We partnered with Activate Workforce Solutions and CrossPurpose, two organizations providing services for Denver’s adult job seekers who are ready to start a new career path, improve their financial situation, or become more self-sufficient. We also partnered with GPS Education Partners to explore the use of PAIRIN tools with students in a high school manufacturing apprenticeship program in Wisconsin.
How We Know That It Works:
- Learners felt assessment data was spot-on: It accurately depicted personal skills and mindsets related to employability.
- Supports screening-in: Ten percent of participants were assessed as ready to move into key programs to fast-track into advancement.
- Wage increases: Activate Workforce Solution’s job placement data demonstrated that 22 participants experienced an average monthly wage increase of $1600 following completion of a 6-week training program. The PAIRIN curriculum forms the core of this personal development and coaching program.
Why it Works for Working Adult Learners:
This tool defines clear language around skills needed for workplace success, giving employers, program providers, and participants common language to identify skill gaps and support goal setting.
|Data-driven wraparound services
PAIRIN provides valid and objective data as a foundation on which to build supportive services, coaching, and educational/developmental/learning opportunities.
It connects jobseekers to careers that are a fit based on mindset and behavior.
|Only requires basic literacy skills
The test is designed to be simple, using accessible vocabulary.
Field Testing Partners
- Activate Workforce Solutions
- GPS Education Partners, Wisconsin High School Apprenticeship Program
- 50 unemployed or underemployed individuals in Denver’s CrossPurpose program
- 24 high school students in a GPS manufacturing apprenticeship program
“What I have found to be very true is that for people who don’t have counseling degrees, people who aren’t psychologists, PAIRIN actually makes the best and most valid psychological research digestible for laypeople.”
Activate Workforce Solutions
“Field testing really allowed us to see the entire scope of where PAIRIN can be used to make an impact, which spans from workforce programs and individual job seekers to the businesses doing the hiring. After a business works with an organization like Activate, they can see the power of how soft skills are such a key component of the success of an employee.”
“PAIRIN is helping adults struggling to succeed in our nation’s labor market better develop the essential skills—like problem solving, creativity, grit, and interpersonal skills—that are needed for long-term success. This tool helps employers evaluate job candidates based on their abilities and mindsets, rather than just their histories.”
Director, Employment Technology Fund
Heather Barton, CrossPurpose Graduate
Heather Barton turned to CrossPurpose to help her find a more financially stable profession after doctors diagnosed her son with Type 1 diabetes. “We were doing OK, and then with all the medical bills we were no longer doing OK,” she said.
During the CrossPurpose programs, Heather took The PAIRIN Survey to learn more about her strengths, as well as her coachable behaviors for improvement. “PAIRIN showed me that my drive for success is really high, and I’ll do what I need to do to be successful, and my persistence is high; I don’t let things get in my way.” Through CrossPurpose, Heather had the support of a coach to help her understand the data and put a roadmap together to advance professionally. “It’s really beneficial to have a coach dig in and help you apply it to your life,” she said. The coaching also helped her to understand the importance of making informed decisions quickly. which is critical in the work of water management.
As a result of her survey and a local demand for talent, Heather is now a Certified Water Manager with a pathway for increased growth and much higher earning potential. Because of her region’s shortage of skilled water management professionals, she was the first Certified Water Manager hired by her employer directly from a community college program. Her PAIRIN assessment validated that she was ready to take on the responsibility. “Back in Spring 2017, I didn’t feel like I could provide for my family…at all. I felt like I was barely keeping my son alive. Now, in my household I’m the breadwinner…. I’m learning, and I’m growing, and I have so much potential for growth….it’s only up from here.”