WE SENSED it for several years now, we just can't put our fingers on it. Now, the World Bank in a publication entitled: "Developing Socioemotional Skills for the Philippines' Labor Market" written by Pablo Acosta, Takiko Igarashi, Rosechin Olfindo, and Jan Rutkowski find the gap between schooling and employment, and that is the absence or weakness of socioemotional skills otherwise referred to as noncognitive skills, soft skills or behavioral skills.

"Emerging international evidence suggests that socioemotional skills are increasingly crucial to the types of jobs being created by the global economy. Whereas in the past, literacy, numeracy, and various forms of administrative and technical know-how drove gains in worker productivity, structural economic transformation is creating a burgeoning demand for jobs that require skills related to individual behavior, personality, attitude, and mindset. However, governments and educational institutions in many countries, including the Philippines, are only beginning to fully recognize the importance of socioemotional skills and to develop strategies to foster their development," the report's main message read.

And where is this gap created?

The report says, as early as pre-school and elementary.

There we find affirmation of what we have been yakking about for years now, the education focus on cognitive skills, the math, the subjects, and most of all, the grades. Even the very basic Good Manners and Right Conduct, what the baby boomers quickly recognize as GMRC can no longer be seen as a subject in elementary grades. There is nothing there that touches on the right conduct and attitudes.

The study affirms the following (quoted en toto):

1. The number of Philippine firms that report inadequate workforce skills rose by 30 percent in the past six years alone. Two-thirds of employers report difficulty finding workers with an adequate work ethic or appropriate interpersonal and communications skills.

2. Because the education and vocational training sector has been slow to meet the demand for socioemotional skills development, the proportion of firms that provide worker training has doubled over the past six years, and firm based training increasingly focuses on socioemotional skills.

3. In the Philippines, more-educated and employed workers tend to score higher on measures of grit, decision making, agreeableness, and extraversion.

4. One standard deviation in socioemotional skills is associated with a 9 percent increase in average daily earnings (approximately US$2). Socioemotional skills are associated with especially large income increases for women, young workers, less-educated workers, and those employed in the service sector.

5. Higher levels of socioemotional skills are also correlated with a greater probability of being employed, having completed secondary education, and pursuing tertiary education.

Among its recommendations are, of course, the importance of intervention in the workplace, but most of all a change in the school curriculum and the grim focus of education on the students performance in cognitive achievement tests, which had sacrificed if not obliterated soft-skills competency.

The message is clear, especially to parents, considering that the education system has been skewed toward the cognitive, make sure you teach your young kids good manners and right conduct and some other lessons about how we have been brought up with like our children's initiative to accomplish tasks, recognize and manage their emotions, and how to deal with conflict, among many values-laden capabilities. In the end, a good moral character does matters a lot, but this was eased out of our educational system as we prefer to join the race for cognitive performance.