Soft-Skills Prize

This prize would challenge teams to create a technological solution that improves soft and social skills. These include skills that help workers lead teams, network, negotiate and communicate their wishes to their team members and managers, and solve challenges in creative and efficient ways. Acquiring soft skills would also help workers develop professional networks, which would increase the likelihood of them finding new, gainful employment.

@TiffanyEm, @Cambias, @jpainter, I’d like to ask your opinion on this idea for an XPRIZE. Do you think this would go a long way to helping low-skilled and low-wage workers? Is it achievable?

I think this would be tremendously helpful. What’s funny is that American schools had this a century ago: when my father was in school in the 1930s, one of the classes was “Deportment” – which is to say, manners. This was just after the end of the Golden Door era of immigration and America was working to assimilate a large cohort of new arrivals with very different customs and folkways. The schools taught straight-up Emily Post WASP manners, so that nobody would be disadvantaged by not knowing proper forms of address or how to write a letter.

It would be highly useful to have something like that in schools today, though I’m sure there would be tremendous wrangling. By teaching a set of practices you would be, essentially, anointing those as the universal norm. In an era of prickly identity politics and pricklier counter-identity politics, this would be a minefield.

I love this prize, especially as we do a lot of work developing tech to create these skills at scale.

@sinnodk, @MichaelEllison, @mannyluong, @AlmaSalazar can I also ask your opinion on this idea for an XPRIZE competition? Do you think it’s feasible? And do you agree it would make a significant impact on the lives of particularly low-skill and low-wage workers?