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SNHU receives $1M Google grant to develop test to assess 'soft skills' of students

April 25. 2018 3:32AM
Google headquarters shown Jan. 24, 2016, in Mountain View, Calif. (Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA/TNS/File photo)

HOOKSETT — Southern New Hampshire University has been awarded a $1 million grant from to explore soft skills assessments, such as trustworthiness, for people aged 16 to 24.

The grant will allow the university, working with partners, to tackle the issue by building and deploying an assessment platform designed to map in-demand soft skills for 2,000 people in high-need areas by 2020.

“We often say that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” SNHU President Paul LeBlanc said. “Through this pilot, we will test that assumption, and help under-skilled workers demonstrate their talents to employers in a meaningful way that really hasn’t been done before.”

SNHU was among seven others that received funding from as part of its work initiative, a two-year project to help prepare for the changing nature of work, and is the only university on the list.

Many employers identify soft skills, such as grit and teamwork, as among the most important traits for on-the-job success.

“Through the Work Initiative, we’re supporting new efforts to help people prepare for and connect to jobs in the changing economy,” said Andrew Dunckelman, economic opportunity lead at “We believe that soft skills will only grow in importance as work changes, and we’re excited to support SNHU as they transform the way those skills are assessed and validated.”

The assessment platform will be competency-based and mapped to in-demand soft skills including communication, leadership and empathy.

The results will then feed into a facilitated job placement process to help inform a training model for this underserved population.

SNHU will also address the lack of credentialing issue by providing those who complete this assessment with an SNHU official badge.

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