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Project by:
Joyce Arntson
Evie Einstein

SCANS Skills & Competencies


    This interactive white paper serves as a resource for new and replacement community college instructors in the business and computer science disciplines. 

    The Web links presented throughout this paper will expose you to the most pertinent and timely research and resources now emerging with respect to SCANS Skills and competencies integrated into the classroom. 

    The hope is that these links will be immediately helpful to you in your quest to design, develop, and deliver engaging and innovative instruction to your classroom, division, and college. 

    Learning Activities have been included.  You may choose to explore these yourself or have you students use them in the classroom. 


    SCANS Background

    The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to determine the skills our young people need to succeed in the world of work. The Commission's fundamental purpose is to encourage a high-performance economy characterized by high-skill, high-wage employment.

    The primary objective of SCANS is to help teachers understand how curriculum and instruction must change to enable students to develop those high performance skills needed to succeed in the high performance workplace.

    SCANS has focused on one important aspect of schooling: what they called "learning a living" system. In 1991, they issued their initial report, What Work Requires of Schools.

    As outlined in that report, a high-performance workplace requires workers who have a solid foundation in:

    • the basic literacy and computational skills
    • the thinking skills necessary to put knowledge to work,
    • the personal qualities that make workers dedicated and trustworthy.
    • High-performance workplaces also require other competencies:
    • the ability to manage resources
    • to work amicably and productively with others
    • to acquire and use information, to master complex systems
    • to work with a variety of technologies.

    (Source: Academic Innovations


    Integration of SCANS in the Classroom

    The SCANS 2000 Center is dedicated to creating a workforce development system that properly prepares workers and learners to compete in the international economy of the 21st century.

    The purpose of the site is to provide information and recommendations about teaching the SCANS skills and encouraging lifelong learning.  This site provides examples from their own projects in classrooms and workplaces.

    Learning Activity:  To see implementations of SCANS skill sets integrated into an academic setting go to  These examples are provided by an interdisciplinary research group at Johns Hopkins University that sponsors school-to-work, welfare-to-work, and educational reform projects.


    Detailed SCANS Skills & Competencies

    (Source: SCANS 2000 Center)

    The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified the essential skills needed for high-quality job performance. They are made up of five workplace competencies based on a three-part foundation.

    Workplace Competencies

    • Resources
    • Information
    • Interpersonal
    • Systems
    • Technology

    Foundation Skills

    • Basic Skills
    • Thinking Skills
    • Personal Qualities


    Workplace Competencies


    C1 Allocates Time
    Selects relevant, goal-related activities, ranks them in order of importance, allocates time to activities, and understands, prepares, and follows schedules.

    C2 Allocates Money
    Uses or prepares budgets, including making cost and revenue forecasts, keeps detailed records to track budget performance, and makes appropriate adjustments.

    C3 Allocates Material and Facility Resources
    Acquires, stores, and distributes materials, supplies, parts, equipment, space, or final products in order to make the best use of them.

    C4 Allocates Human Resources
    Assesses knowledge and skills and distributes work accordingly, evaluates performance, and provides feedback.


    C5 Acquires and Evaluates Information
    Identifies need for data, obtains it from existing sources or creates it, and evaluates its relevance and accuracy.

    C6 Organizes and Maintains Information
    Organizes, processes, and maintains written or computerized records and other forms of information in a systematic fashion.

    C7 Interprets and Communicates Information
    Selects and analyzes information and communicates the results to others using oral, written, graphic, pictorial, or multi-media methods.

    C8 Uses Computers to Process Information
    Employs computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information.


    C9 Participates as a Member of a Team
    Works cooperatively with others and contributes to group with ideas, suggestions, and effort.

    C10 Teaches others
    Helps others learn.

    C11 Serves Clients/Customers
    Works and Communicates with clients and customers to satisfy their expectations.

    C12 Exercises Leadership
    Communicates thoughts, feelings, and ideas to justify a position, encourages, persuades, convinces, or otherwise motivates an individual or groups, including responsibly challenging existing procedures, policies, or authority.

    C13 Negotiates to Arrive at a Decision
    Works toward an agreement that may involve exchanging specific resources or resolving divergent interests.

    C14 Works with Cultural Diversity
    Works well with men and women and with a variety of ethnic, social, or educational backgrounds.


    C15 Understands Systems
    Knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work and operates effectively within them.

    C16 Monitors and Corrects Performance
    Distinguishes trends, predicts impact of actions on system operations, diagnoses deviations in the function of a system/organization, and takes necessary action to correct performance.

    C17 Improves and Designs Systems
    Makes suggestions to modify existing systems to improve products or services, and develops new or alternative systems.


    C18 Selects Technology
    Judges which set of procedures, tools, or machines, including computers and their programs, will produce the desired results.

    C19 Applies Technology to Task
    Understands the overall intent and the proper procedures for setting up and operating machines, including computers and their programming systems.

    C20 Maintains and Troubleshoots Technology
    Prevents, identifies, or solves problems in machines, computers, and other technologies.


    Foundation Skills

    Basic Skills

    F1 Reading
    Locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and documents--including manuals, graphs, and schedules--to perform tasks; learns from text by determining the main idea or essential message; identifies relevant details, facts, and specifications; infers or locates the meaning of unknown or technical vocabulary; and judges the accuracy, appropriateness, style, and plausibility of reports, proposals, or theories of other writers.

    F2 Writing
    Communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; records information completely and accurately; composes and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, proposals, graphs, flow charts; uses language, style, organization, and format appropriate to the subject matter, purpose, and audience. Includes supporting documentation and attends to level of detail; checks, edits, and revises for correct information, appropriate emphasis, form, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    F3 Arithmetic
    Performs basic computations; uses basic numerical concepts such as whole numbers and percentages in practical situations; makes reasonable estimates of arithmetic results without a calculator, and uses tables, graphs, diagrams, and charts to obtain or convey quantitative information.

    F4 Mathematics
    Approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of
    mathematical techniques; uses quantitative data to construct logical explanations for real world situations; expresses mathematical ideas and concepts orally and in writing; and understands the role of chance in the occurrence and prediction of events.

    F5 Listening
    Receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues such as body language in ways that are appropriate to the purpose; for example, to comprehend; to learn; to critically evaluate; to appreciate; or to support the speaker.

    F6 Speaking
    Organizes ideas and communicates oral messages appropriate to listeners and situations; participates in conversation, discussion, and group presentations; selects an appropriate medium for conveying a message; uses verbal language and other cues such as body language appropriate in style, tone, and level of complexity to the audience and the occasion; speaks clearly and communicates a message; understands and responds to listener feedback; and asks questions when needed.

    Thinking Skills

    F7 Creative Thinking
    Uses imagination freely, combines ideas or information in new ways, makes connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, and reshapes goals in ways that reveal new possibilities.

    F8 Decision Making
    Specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternatives.

    F9 Problem Solving
    Recognizes that a problem exits (i.e., there is a discrepancy between what is and what should or could be), identifies possible reasons for the discrepancy, and devises and implements a plan of action to resolve it. Evaluates and monitors progress, and revises plan as indicated by findings.

    F10 Seeing Things in the Mind's Eye
    Organizes and processes symbols, pictures, graphs, objects or other information; for example, sees a building from a blueprint, a system's operation from schematics, the flow of work activities from narrative descriptions, or the taste of food from reading a recipe.

    F11 Knowing How to Learn
    Recognizes and can use learning techniques to apply and adapt new knowledge and skills in both familiar and changing situations. Involves being aware of learning tools such as personal learning styles (visual, aural, etc.), formal learning strategies (notetaking or clustering items that share some characteristics), and informal learning strategies (awareness of unidentified false assumptions that may lead to faulty conclusions).

    F12 Reasoning
    Discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and applies it in solving a problem. For example, uses logic to draw conclusions from available information, extracts rules or principles from a set of objects or written text; applies rules and principles to a new situation, or determines which conclusions are correct when given a set of facts and a set of conclusions.

    Personal Qualities

    F13 Responsibility
    Exerts a high level of effort and perseverance toward goals attainment. Works hard to become excellent at doing tasks by setting high standards, paying attention to details, working well, and displaying a high level of concentration even when assigned an unpleasant task. Displays high standards of attendance, punctuality, enthusiasm, vitality, and optimism in approaching and completing tasks.

    F14 Self-Esteem
    Believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive view of self; demonstrates knowledge of own skills and abilities; is aware of impact on others; and knows own emotional capacity and needs and how to address them.

    F15 Sociability
    Demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in new and on-going group settings. Asserts self in familiar and unfamiliar social situations; relates well to others; responds appropriately as the situation requires; and takes an interest in what others say and do.

    F16 Self-Management
    Assesses own knowledge, skills, and abilities accurately; set well-defined and realistic personal goals; monitors progress toward goal attainment and motivates self through goal achievement; exhibits self-control and responds to feedback unemotionally and non-defensively; is a "self-starter."

    F17 Integrity/Honesty
    Can be trusted. Recognizes when faced with making a decision or exhibiting behavior that may break with commonly-held personal or societal values; understands the impact of violating these beliefs and codes on an organization, self, and others; and chooses an ethical course of action.


    Recommended Text

    What Work Requires of Schools: A Scans Report for America 2000, available at


    Places To Go

    Business Education & CIS Grants Portal.
    TNT Website.
    BESAC Website.




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