Foundational Skills required for Success in the 21st Century



This Curriculum is designed to help Residents succeed in the 21st Century.

This curriculum is built around the foundational: 1) “Skills,” 2) “Knowledge,” and 3) “Expertise” residents should master to better ensure success.

The goal of the curriculum is:

  1. Optimally facilitate the teaching and learning of the Knowledge and Skills necessary for success.
  2. Provide an opportunity to develop Expertise in a particular Skill.
  3. Outlines the necessary support system, standards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, professional development, and learning environments.

The end goal is the understanding that the more we can demonstrate Expertise in the key 21st Century Knowledge and Skills, the more we can succeed in the 21st Century.


Foundational Skills

(Foundational Skills are the basic Skills required for a successful life in the 21st Century.)


1. Communication Skills

Communicator who effectively conveys information verbally, in writing, and graphically.  This includes teamwork, leadership, sales, negotiating, and collaboration skills. Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts.  Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions.  Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade). Use multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact. Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual).  Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams. Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal. Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

2. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving/Reasoning Skills

Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed.

3. Computer/Information Technology Skills

Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email.

4.  Job Specific Technical Skills

This would be specifically related to engineering jobs and/or technical jobs.

5. Project Management/Planning/Organizing Skills

Deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.

6. General Business Skills

This includes the ability to understand and exploit business opportunities.  The Strategic Management of Technology Skills would probably fall into this group. Basic local and global economics, business and entrepreneurial literacy.  Knowing how to make appropriate personal economic choices.  Using entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career

 7. Basic Math Skills

Multiply, divide, calculate percentages, basic statistics, interpret graphs and tables.

8. Civics Skills

History, Government, Law and Regulations.  Participating effectively in civic life through knowing how to stay informed and understanding governmental processes.  Exercising the rights and obligations of citizenship at local, state, national and global levels.  Understanding the local and global implications of civic decisions

9. Health Skills

Obtaining, interpreting and understanding basic health information and services and using such information and services in ways that enhance health.  Understanding preventive physical and mental health measures, including proper diet, nutrition, exercise, risk avoidance and stress reduction.  Using available information to make appropriate health-related decision.  Establishing and monitoring personal and family health goals.

10. Auto/Home Maintenance

Demonstrate knowledge of and Skills in the purchase and maintenance of our Cars, Homes, and/or Apartments.

The Important Behaviors to Exhibit in the 21st Century

The difference between Skills and Behaviors

While Skills can be developed, Behaviors are things that are exhibited. Behaviors are learned over a lifetime and represent a general approach to life.  For example, one cannot be taught to be honest, one just has to know that being honest is a good thing.  Or, one cannot be taught to be dependable, one simply knows that being dependable is a good thing.

  • Honesty/Integrity/Morality. People in general respect personal integrity more than any other value.  Honesty with both oneself and others is critical to adapting to rapid change.  Morality is our sense of fair play.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility.  Because of the rapid changes in the 21st Century, openness to new ideas and concepts, to working independently or as part of a team, and to carrying out multiple tasks or projects is critical.
  • Dedication/Hard-Working/Work Ethic/Tenacity. People love to around those that love what they do and will keep at it until they solve the problem and get the job done. People like to be around productive people with solid work ethic who exerts optimal effort in successfully completing tasks.
  • Dependability/Reliability/Responsibility. People desire to be around those that arrive on time, and who will take responsibility for their actions. Being Dependable, responsible contributor committed to excellence and success is a good thing.
  • Positive Attitude/Motivation/Energy/Passion. The people that succeed are the ones with drive and passion — and who demonstrate this enthusiasm through their words and actions.  Being an energetic performer, with a passion for work, sunny disposition, and upbeat, positive attitude is a good thing.
  • Professionalism. Acts in a responsible and fair manner in all your personal and work activities, which is seen as a sign of maturity and self-confidence.  Conscientious go-getter who is highly organized, dedicated, and committed to professionalism.
  • Self-Confidence. Look at it this way: if you don’t believe in yourself, in your unique mix of skills, education, and abilities, why should anyone else? Be confident in yourself and what you can offers
  • Self-Motivated/Ability to Work With Little or No Supervision. While teamwork is always mentioned as an important skill, so is the ability to work independently, with minimal supervision.
  • Willingness to Learn. No matter what your age, no matter how much experience you have, you should always be willing to learn a new skill or technique. Life is constantly changing and evolving, and you must show an openness to grow and learn with that change.


What are the top ten skills that employers want?

Based on a number of surveys on the skills required by graduates undertaken by Microsoft, Target Jobs, the BBC, Prospects, NACE and AGR and other organisations, here is our summary of the skills which were most often deemed important.

VERBAL COMMUNICATION 1 Able to express your ideas clearly and confidently in speech
TEAMWORK 2 Work confidently within a group
COMMERCIAL AWARENESS 3 Understand the commercial realities affecting the organisation.
ANALYSING & INVESTIGATING 4 Gather information systematically to establish facts & principles. Problem solving.
INITIATIVE/SELF MOTIVATION 5 Able to act on initiative, identify opportunities & proactive in putting forward ideas & solutions
DRIVE 6 Determination to get things done. Make things happen & constantly looking for better ways of doing things.
WRITTEN COMMUNICATION 7 Able to express yourself clearly in writing
PLANNING & ORGANISING 8 Able to plan activities & carry them through effectively
FLEXIBILITY 9 Adapt successfully to changing situations & environments
TIME MANAGEMENT 10 Manage time effectively, prioritising tasks and able to work to deadlines.

Other skills that were also seen as important

GLOBAL SKILLS Able to speak and understand other languages. Appreciation of other cultures. See

NEGOTIATING & PERSUADING Able to influence and convince others, to discuss and reach agreement.
Able to motivate and direct others
NUMERACY Multiply & divide accurately, calculate percentages, use statistics & a calculator, interpret graphs & tables.
COMPUTING SKILLS Word-processing, using databases, spreadsheets, the Internet & email, designing web pages etc.
SELF AWARENESS Awareness of achievements, abilities, values & weaknesses & what you want out of life.
PERSONAL IMPACT/CONFIDENCE Presents a strong, professional, positive image to others which inspires confidence & commands respect.
LIFELONG LEARNING Continues to learn throughout life. Develops the competencies needed for current & future roles
STRESS TOLERANCE Maintains effective performance under pressure
INTEGRITY Adheres to standards & procedures, maintains confidentiality and questions inappropriate behaviour.
INDEPENDENCE Accepts responsibility for views & actions and able to work under their own direction & initiative.
DEVELOPING PROFESSIONALISM Pays care & attention to quality in all their work. Supports & empowers others.
ACTION PLANNING Able to decide what steps are needed to achieve particular goals and then implement these.
DECISION-MAKING Determines the best course of action. Evaluates options based on logic & fact & presents solutions
INTERPERSONAL SENSITIVITY Recognises & respects different perspectives. Open to the ideas & views of others
CREATIVITY Generates & applying new ideas & solutions

The most important skills to develop in employees to drive company growth over the next five years were (according to the Flux Report by Right Management):

  • Leadership skills 62%
  • Management skills 62%
  • Interpersonal skills 53%
  • Innovation and creativity 45%
  • Resilience 43%
  • Technical/specialist skills 40%
  • IT skills 40%
  • Sales/marketing skills 32%
  • Client management skills 24%
  • Other/none of the above 4%


Can you work well on a team, make decisions and solve problems? Those are the skills employers most want when they are deciding which new college graduates to hire. The next-most-important skill: ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization. Employers also want new hires to have technical knowledge related to the job, but that’s not nearly as important as good teamwork, decision-making and communication skills, and the ability to plan and prioritize work.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) a Bethlehem, PA non-profit group that links college career placement offices with employers, ran a survey from mid-August through early October where it asked hiring managers what skills they plan to prioritize when they recruit from the class of 2015 at colleges and graduate schools. Though the survey sample is small—NACE collected responses from just 260 employers—the wisdom is sound. New and recent grads should pay attention. (Most of the respondents were large companies like Chevron, IBM and Seagate Technology.)

College majors and graduate degrees also matter. The three degrees most in demand for the class of 2015 are business, engineering, and computer & information sciences. But cutting across all majors and degrees, employers want new hires who can work well on teams, and who are decisive problem-solvers.
Here are the 10 skills employers say they seek, in order of importance. NACE gave each a rating on a 5-point scale, where 5 was extremely important, 4 was very important, 3 was somewhat important, etc.:

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

The good news for grads: No matter what you have studied in school, whether anthropology or French or computer science, you will have had to learn the top five skills on the list. The trick is to demonstrate that you have those skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview. Think about class projects where you have been a team member or leader and jobs where you have had to plan and prioritize. Describe those skills specifically in your résumé and cover letter and in your job interview.

For instance if you staffed a campus snack bar, say you worked on a team of five people and handled food orders. Or if you worked in the library, include the size of the staff and that you handled requests from 50 students a day at the circulation desk. Even a job as a counselor in a summer camp can involve team work, decision-making and planning. Make sure you spell out those responsibilities briefly but specifically. For example, you could say you worked on a staff of 20 counselors, supervised the daily activities of 35 campers and coordinated group activities for 140 young people.

The survey makes clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. The trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills.