Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Levine-Sapozhnikov, Brooklyn


Today’s young 21st century workforce has so much to offer in an array of industry sectors. Yet, so many are not achieving their full potential with underdeveloped or lack of soft skills. Vulnerable youth-at-risk who have not experienced healthy developmental stages growing up are at a higher risk of not developing soft skills essential for workforce and lifelong success. This study aims to analyze the gap in soft skills development in youth-at-risk who are attending alternative education. Using a Constructivist paradigm, this qualitative research was completed using maximum variation and snowball sampling to capture the full experience and the individual perspectives of key stakeholders who have/had direct contact with youth-at-risk. Faculty, staff, and a local workforce development agency participated in a joint construct via face-to-face interviews and a member-checking meeting to analyze the effects of the soft skills gap. All participants were over the age of 18 and reside within a selected Southern California county. This research aimed to contribute to the field of social work in both macro and micro practice as it relates to the enhancement of curriculum and enrichment of the learning environment that alternative education students currently have. Through this contribution, it is the hope of the researcher that youth-at-risk will develop or enhance their social and emotional skills so that they are better prepared to go into the workforce and post-secondary education thus achieving self-sufficiency and lifelong success.