A Public-Private Partnership Designed to Improve Student Soft Skills: The Johnson & Johnson Bridge-to-Employment Program
AbstractIn this paper we describe a corporate-education partnership between Johnson & Johnson and disadvantaged public schools called Bridge-to-Employment (BTE) and examine the program’s impact on student acquisition of soft or non-cognitive, school-to-career transition skills. We model the differences in the attainment levels of eight soft skills in a sample of 236 BTE and 308 Comparison students from 10 BTE program sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Using cross-site trajectory analysis, we find that BTE participation had a positive impact on BTE students’ communication skills, perceived readiness for an immediate job, readiness for career, teamwork, and persistence in pursuing a task/goal (grit). BTE did not have an impact on students’ problem solving skills, readiness for college or ability to set long-term goals. We discuss the possible reasons for these mixed results and the need for encouraging more direct business-public school partnerships to address the growing knowledge and skills gaps facing our nation.
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