The Importance of Interests in Building a Skilled Workforce

Tara Behrend is Associate Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Her research interests center around understanding and resolving barriers to computer-mediated work effectiveness, especially in the areas of training, recruitment, and selection. She is also interested in career decision-making, specifically relating to STEM fields; her work in this area is funded by a research grant from the National Science Foundation. She provides psychometric consulting for the American Council on Education and has consulted for a wide range of public and private organizations in the areas of training, skills development and selection. In her talk, Tara looks at…

1. A person’s interest in a field is an important indicator of their long-term success in that field .
2. Mismatches between one’s own interests and the requirements of a job lead to a range of negative consequences.
3. Men and people living in high-income countries are less likely to experience interest mismatches.
4. Helping more people to develop interests in less-common fields is an important step in building a diverse and talented workforce; this is the domain of educators, industry members, and communities.