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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

David Shacklette | Team Profile

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David Shacklette is the founding Product Manager for the Skills Lab, a research initiative and startup that designs performance-based assessment tools that can be used by universities, businesses, and individuals to provide a clearer picture of the durable skills (sometimes called “soft skills”) required for individuals and teams to succeed in the labor market.

Prior to joining the Skills Lab, David has held product roles at Fortune Magazine, where most notably he launched and scaled Fortune’s first education vertical in partnership with 2U, and has previously held a variety of operational and leadership roles in venture capital and early-stage startups in the Bay Area. David holds a Master’s degree in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University, where he focused on topics in the fields of Educational Neuroscience and AI.




Selected Research & Projects

The Harvard Skills Lab — Measuring higher-order skills

The Harvard Skills Lab creates new, performance-based, scalable measurement tools for higher-order skills. We contribute to the basic science of human potential by defining and measuring concepts like teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills, with a focus on the changing demands of the labor market.

Teamplayers | Working Paper

Are some people good team players? In this paper, we design and test a new method for identifying individual contributions to team production. We randomly assign people to multiple teams and predict team performance based on previously assessed individual skills. Some people consistently cause their team to exceed its predicted performance. We call these individuals “team players.” Team players score significantly higher on a well-established measure of emotional intelligence, but do not differ across a variety of other dimensions, including IQ, personality, education, and gender. Social skills - operationalized as a single latent factor that combines social intelligence scores with the team player effect - improve team performance about as much as IQ.

Economic Decision Making | Working Paper

Jobs increasingly require good decision-making. Workers are valued not only for how much they can do, but also for their ability to decide what to do. In our paper we develop a theory and measurement paradigm for assessing individual variation in the ability to make good decisions about resource allocation, which we call allocative skill. We begin with a model where agents strategically acquire information about factor productivity under time and effort constraints. Conditional on such constraints, agents’ allocative skill can be defined as the marginal product of their attention. We test our model in a field survey where participants act as managers assigning fictional workers with heterogeneous productivity schedules to job tasks and are paid in proportion to output.

Selected Media

David Shacklette speaks with Alex Sarlin on the Edtech Insiders Podcast about education and workforce alignment in the context of research by the Project’s College-to-Jobs Map team.


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