The Skills to Pay the Bills: Returns to On-the-job Soft Skills Training

Working Paper
Published on 1 December 2017


Adhvaryu, Kala and Nyshadham (2017) evaluate the causal impacts of on-the-job soft skills training on the productivity, wages, and retention of female garment workers in India. The program increased women’s extraversion and communication, and spurred technical skill upgrading. Treated workers were 20 percent more productive than controls post-program. Wages rise very modestly with treatment (by 0.5 percent),with no differential turnover, suggesting that although soft skills raise workers’ marginal products,labor market frictions are large enough to create a substantial wedge between productivity and wages. Consistent with this, the net return to the firm was large: 258 percent eight months after program completion.


Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan

Namrata Kala

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Anant Nyshadham

University of Michigan