Project Design

Designing Life Skills Training

AGI Lessons Learned

The choice of which skills to focus on should be informed by diagnostics that examine the target group's knowledge and its social and behavioral skill constraints. Projects need to prioritize which life skills best fit the target group. There are foundational social and behavioral skills, as well as life skills that are specifically appropriate for job-seekers, youth who are already employed, and for aspiring entrepreneurs. Life skills training also typically addresses specific knowledge gaps (for example, health and rights), and these needs vary from one population to another.

Curriculum development consultants and NGOs with expertise in life skills design and delivery can help with the curriculum development. Most AGI pilots relied on specialists with experience in soft skills training to lead the curriculum development process and build the capacity of the project team in this area.

Customize life skills programs to fit the target group. Consult other organizations to see if locally-adapted curricula exist. If not, international best practices can be drawn on and adapted. This process may entail translating the curriculum into local languages, changing names or situations in role plays, and adding or discarding certain modules. Remember to think carefully about the age and literacy levels of the beneficiaries and incorporate pictures and images to deliver information to less literate audiences.

Curricula should be designed to be interactive and experiential. Life skills need to be practiced to be learned. Delivery of life skills programs is based on active participation and cooperative learning as opposed to lectures. The AGI pilots used innovative teaching techniques, such as guest speakers, group work and discussions, role plays and theater, storytelling, debates, arts and music, field trips, community service projects, and sporting events. Participants consistently gave high ratings to the life skills curriculum. The life skills can play a role in keeping attendance levels up.

Life skills programs are designed to teach a broad set of social and behavioral skills—also referred to as “soft” or “non-cognitive” skills—that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life. In addition to the core skills outlined below, several AGI pilots addressed sexual and reproductive health behaviors and decision making as critical elements of young women’s well-being and development in the project settings.

Core Life Skills for any Life Skills Program

  • Self-confidence
  • Respecting self and others
  • Interpersonal skills (empathy and compassion)
  • Managing emotions
  • Personal responsibility (including dependability, integrity and, work ethic)
  • Positive attitude and self-motivation
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork
  • Communication (listening, verbal, written)
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Decision making

Employability and Work Readiness Skills for Job Seekers and Employed Youth

  • Workplace behavior
  • Personal leadership
  • Planning and organizational skills (including time and financial management)
  • Career assessment tools
  • Job searching skills
  • CV and cover letter writing skills
  • Interview skills
  • Image/appearance
  • Customer-relations skills
  • Financial literacy
  • Workplace rights and responsibilities

Life Skills for Potential Entrepreneurs

  • Business plan development
  • Personal leadership
  • Management skills (including employee, supplier, and project management)
  • Risk taking
  • Coping with failure
  • Market research skills
  • Financial management
  • Financial literacy
  • Customer relations skills

Source: Adapted from IYF 2014.

Labor market interventions across a variety of contexts are increasingly incorporating life skills training into programming, based on growing evidence from economic and psychology research in developed countries suggesting that noncognitive skills can affect both education and labor market outcomes. These skills are particularly important for this age cohort (see Further Reading). Life skills programs are also particularly important for young people’s social and emotional recovery and resilience in the wake of conflict or disaster. These skills can furnish youth with strategies for managing stressors from traumatic experiences, improve their pro-social behaviors, and build their sense of belonging and responsibility to their communities.

Most AGI pilots included approximately 40 hours of life skills training. The content of the life skills varied across the projects according to the diagnosis of specific knowledge and skill deficits among the target populations.

AGI Life Skills
Development Content Resources


  • Technical and life skills curricula developed by the NGO training provider
  • Nutrition modules developed by an inter-sectoral team of experts

Life skills:

  • Personal awareness and management
  • Building healthy relationships
  • Decision making
  • Resisting peer pressure
  • Job search and interviewing skills
  • Financial management


  • Nutrition during particular times in the life cycle, such as pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescents
  • Strategies to promote nutrition in a community
Resource icon Afghanistan Nutrition Life Skills Module


  • Curriculum developed with technical assistance from the World Bank task team and a review of international experience
  • Local consultant hired to adapt the curriculum
  • Informed by consultations with adolescent girls
  • Vetted by government ministries
  • Psychosocial education
  • Civic engagement and leadership
  • Sex, gender and violence
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Preparing for work
  • Reducing risks related to natural disasters
  • Financial literacy

Resource icon Haiti Life Skills Presentation

Resource icon Haiti Life Skills Curriculum

Resource icon Haiti Life Skills Curriculum Consultant ToR (French)


  • Curriculum developed by the Business Development Center (BDC), a Jordanian NGO
  • Informed by consultations with employers
  • Effective communication and business writing skills
  • Teambuilding and teamwork skills
  • Time management
  • Positive thinking
  • Customer service
  • CV and interview skills
Tool icon Jordan Employability Skills Training ToR


  • Local firm hired to provide certified training on counseling and soft skills to career counselors
  • Training session and materials were then developed by the counselors, informed by a needs assessment among students
  • Teamwork skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Problem solving
  • CV and interview skills


  • Curriculum developed by service providers with the EPAG coordination team
  • Informed by the Girls' Vulnerability Assessment, conducted prior to project implementation
  • Adapted from several resources, both in-country and international
  • Preparing for the world of work (workplace conduct, career development, decision making and teamwork)
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Family skills
  • Healthy living
  • Preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
  • Communication, self-esteem, and leadership
  • Know your rights
  • Community service

Tool icon Life Skills Training Material Consolidator ToR

Resource icon Excerpts from the EPAG Life Skills Curriculum


  • Curriculum developed by the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA)
  • Consultant hired to tailor the curriculum to the AGEI target group and conduct a field test with the training providers
  • Negotiation skills
  • Dealing with discrimination
  • Workers’ rights education
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Business development skills and financial management

Resource icon Nepal Life Skills Curriculum

Resource icon Nepal Life Skill Resources for Trainers

Resource icon Nepal Life Skills Factsheet

South Sudan

  • Curriculum developed by BRAC based on a similar AGI project in Uganda, and adapted to the South Sudan environment
  • Skills of decision making
  • Skills of knowing and living with others
  • Skills of knowing and living with oneself
  • Sexual and reproductive health (menstruation, early pregnancy, STI/HIV prevention, family planning and so on)
  • Leadership
  • Gender and bride price
  • Rape (meaning, prevention strategies, responding and coping)

Resource icon South Sudan Life Skills Training for Adolescent Girl Leaders

Resource icon South Sudan Life Skills Training Refresher Training


  • Curriculum developed by Frontier Adventures, an independent training provider
  • A curriculum development specialist was also hired by the project to review and edit the life skills curriculum.
  • Trust, problem solving, team building, setting personal goals
  • Self-awareness, self-esteem, and leadership
  • Family skills
  • Communication in the workplace
  • Managing stress, anger, and conflict
  • Personal hygiene, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Sex, gender, and violence

Tool icon Rwanda Curriculum Development Specialist ToR

Tool icon Rwanda Life Skills Curriculum

For more information on why and how the AGI pilots taught life skills, see: AGI Learning from Practice Note on Life Skills | World Bank | 2013.

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