Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills

Edited version reprinted courtesy Maricopa University

The SCANS Agenda

In 1991 and 1992, the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) called on the American educational system, from pre- school through post-graduate, to attend to the responsibilities graduates assume as workers, parents, and citizens. Asserting that there is more to life than earning a living, SCANS also insisted that the following set of foundation skills and competencies are essential for all in the modern world.

Foundation Skills

Competent individuals in the high-performance workplace need:

  1. - BASIC SKILLS--reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking and listening.

  2. A. Reading--locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and in documents such as manuals, graphs, and schedules.
    B. Writing--communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, graphs, and flow charts.
    C. Arithmetic/Mathematics--performs basic computations and approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical techniques.
    D. Listening--receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues.
    E. Speaking--organizes ideas and communicates orally.

  3. - THINKING SKILLS--the ability to learn, to reason, to think creatively, to make decisions, and to solve problems.
    A. Creative Thinking--generates new ideas
    B. Decision Making--specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternatives.
    C. Problem Solving--recognizes problems and devises and implements plan of action.
    D. Seeing Things in the Mind's Eye--organizes and processes symbols, pictures, graphs, objects, and other information.
    E. Knowing How to Learn--uses efficient learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills.
    F. Reasoning--discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and applies it when solving a problem.
  1. - PERSONAL QUALITIES--individual responsibility, self-esteem and self-management, sociability, and integrity.
    A. Responsibility--exerts a high level of effort and perseveres towards goal attainment.
    B. Self-Esteem--believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive view of self.
    C. Sociability--demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in group settings.
    D. Self-Management--assess self accurately, sets personal goals, monitors progress, and exhibits self-control.
    E. Integrity/Honesty--chooses ethical courses of action.


Effective individuals can productively use:

  1. - RESOURCES--They know how to allocate time, money, materials, space, and staff.
    A. Time--Selects goal-relevant activities, ranks them, allocates time, and prepares and follows schedules.
    B. Money--Uses or prepares budgets, makes forecasts, keeps records, and makes adjustments to meet objectives.
    C. Materials and Facilities--Acquires, stores, allocates, and uses materials or space efficiently.
    D. Human Resources--Assesses skills and distributes work accordingly, evaluates performance and provides feedback.
  1. - INTERPERSONAL SKILLS--They can work on teams, teaching others, serve customers, lead, negotiate, and work well with people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
    A. Participates as Member of a Team--contributes to group effort.
    B. Teaches Others New Skills.
    C. Serves Clients/Customers--works to satisfy customers' expectations.
    D. Exercises Leadership--communicates ideas to justify position, persuades and convinces others, responsibly challenges existing procedures and policies.
    E. Negotiates--works toward agreements involving exchange of resources, resolves divergent interests.
    F. Works with Diversity--works well with men and women from diverse backgrounds.
  1. - INFORMATION--They can acquire and evaluate data, organize and maintain files, interpret and communicate, and use computers to process information.
    A. Acquires and Evaluates Information.
    B. Organizes and Maintains Information.
    C. Interprets and Communicates Information
    D. Uses Computers to Process Information.
  1. - SYSTEMS--They understand social, organizational, and technological systems; they can monitor and correct performance, and they can design or improve systems.
    A. Understands Systems--knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work and operates effectively with them.
    B. Monitors and Corrects Performance--distinguishes trends, predicts impacts on systems operations, diagnoses systems' performance and corrects
    C. Improves or Designs Systems--suggests modifications to existing systems and develops new or alternative systems to improve performance.
  1. - TECHNOLOGY--They can select equipment and tools, apply technology to specific tasks, and maintain and computers to process information.
    A. Selects Technology--chooses procedures, tools or equipment including computers and related technologies.
    B. Applies Technology to Task--Understands overall intent and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment.
    C. Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment--Prevents, identifies, or solves problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies.