Framework of glass angles in a building represent the transferable-competency framework needed to build resilience for the future.

How to Help Learners Succeed in an Uncertain Future, Part 3: Transferable-Competency Framework

The learners of today will face continuously evolving futures of challenge. Will you be up to it? In part 1 of this 3 part series, we discussed employment-focused, transferable-competency frameworks. I covered the controversy between proponents of employment-focused and those favoring personal growth as the primary purpose of college in part 2. The conclusion of part 2 promised a synthesis of employment-focused, personal growth oriented, and societally beneficial, transferable competencies. Part 3 delivers the synthesis.

Prepare Learners to Succeed with the Transferable-Competency Framework

Assuming you accept the three-part purpose of college, what are the domains and competencies? Can we integrate the teaching of employability competencies with personally relevant growth and societally useful dispositions and skills? Below is one possible framework that incorporates essential learning outcomes for personal growth, societal benefit, and resilient employment. When we develop general education with the full set of transferable skills, we reduce the risk of an uncertain future and help graduates be successful and resilient in their work and personal lives.

Transferable skills enhance employability for a lifetime and enable learning and performing at high levels.

The core competencies range from personal, to practical, people, organizations, and end with society. The organizational and productivity competencies were missing from the Liberal Education and America’s Promise Essential Learning Outcomes and were more business-centric in the employability frameworks. By focusing on all types of organizations, governmental, non-profit, for-profit, religious, and so forth, learners are exposed to a broad range of models that share general competencies with business. In particular, productivity competencies get valuable things done within an organization.

Integrative competencies solve problems, make decisions, design, and synthesize new approaches using specific knowledge domains and the core competencies.

Learning Skills (or competencies) apply to all other competencies in the diagram to learn how to improve through assessment, generalize solutions to other problems, transfer knowledge across domains and contexts, extend knowledge with research, and evaluate knowledge and solutions.


Each college attracts different types of learners and has a unique culture and mission. A college may adopt and adapt the framework to suit its needs. Each program at a college could adapt the framework with the types of problems and challenges that occur in the program discipline. Authentic learning working on realistic challenges engages more of the framework, as well as engaging students interest better.

Learning Skills and Integrative & Applied Learning competencies are best scaffolded in the curriculum, starting simple, but ensuring full development across many contexts and application areas.

Next Steps

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Photo by pepe nero on Unsplash