U.S. Dept. of Labor

Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)
June 1991

Three conclusions of the study are:

  1. A new set of competencies and foundation skills should be required of all high school students

  2. Companies need "high performance" works who are:

    • Comfortable with technology
    • Comfortable as members of a team
    • Have a passion for continuous learning

  3. Schools must be "relentlessly committed to producing skilled graduates as the norm, not the exception."

The Commission posed a three-part foundation consisting of:

  1. Basic Skills: Reads, writes, performs arithmetic and mathematical operations, listens and speaks. These skills include:

    • Reading: Locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and in documents, such as manuals, graphs, and schedules

    • Writing: Communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; and creates documents , such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, graphs, and flow charts.

    • Arithmetic/Mathematics: Performs basic computations and approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical techniques

    • Listening: Receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues

    • Speaking: Organizes ideas and communicates orally

  2. Thinking Skills: Thinks creatively, makes decisions, solves problems, visualizes, knows how to learn, and reasons

    • Creative Thinking: Generates new ideas

    • Decision Making: Specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternative

    • Problem Solving: Recognizes problems and devises and implements plan of action

    • Seeing Things in the Mind's Eye: Organizes, and processes symbols, pictures, graphs, objects and other information

    • Knowing How to Learn: Uses efficient learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills

    • Reasoning: Discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and applies it when solving a problem

  3. Personal Qualities: Displays responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity and honesty

    • Responsibility: Exerts a high level of effort and perseveres towards goal attainment

    • Self-Esteem: Believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive sense of self

    • Sociability: Demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in group settings

    • Self-Management: Assesses self accurately, sets personal goals, monitors progress, and exhibits self-control

    • Integrity/Honesty: Chooses ethical courses of action

In addition to this three-part foundation, SCANS identified five competencies that all graduates should have in order to be successful in the work world:

  1. Resources: Identifies, organizes, plans, and allocates resources

    • Time: Selects goal-relevant activities, ranks them, allocates time, and prepares and follows schedules

    • Money: Uses or prepares budgets, makes forecasts, keeps records, and makes adjustments to meet objectives

    • Material and Facilities: Acquires, stores, allocates, and uses materials or space efficiently

    • Human Resources: Assesses skills and distributes work accordingly, evaluates performance and provides feedback

  2. Interpersonal: Works with others

    • Participates as Member of a Team: Contributes to group effort

    • Teaches Others New Skills

    • Serves Clients/Customers: Works to satisfy customers' expectations

    • Exercises Leadership: Communicates ideas to justify position, persuades and convinces others, responsibly challenges existing procedures and policies

    • Negotiates: Works toward agreements involving exchange of resources, resolves divergent interests

    • Works with Diversity: Works well with men and women from diverse backgrounds

  3. Information: Acquires and uses information

    • Acquires and Evaluates Information

    • Organizes and Maintains Information

    • Interprets and Communicates Information

    • Uses Computers to Process Information

  4. Systems: Understands complex inter-relationships

    • Understands Systems: Knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work and operates effectively with them

    • Monitors and Corrects Performance: Distinguishes trends, predicts impacts on system operations, diagnoses deviations in systems' performance and corrects malfunctions

    • Improves or Designs Systems: Suggests modifications to existing systems and develops new or alternative systems to improve performance

  5. Technology: Works with a variety of technologies

    • Selects Technology: Chooses procedures, tools or equipment including computers and related technologies

    • Applies Technology to Task: Understands overall intent and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment

    • Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment: Prevents, identifies, or solves problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies

Revised 2/14/99