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10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

The future. What do our students really need to know and be able to do to succeed in future education and careers?

Content is a part of what they need to know. Standardized tests test content knowledge and some skills. There are huge debates raging over standardized testing, curriculum, and the like. But what it is that students really need to know for the future. Hint: it isn't all content. 

Content is important to a point. Having certain knowledge of facts and information helps us put things in context as we work and live. Content helps us evaluate other information we are working with. However, in today's world of the web and smart phones, facts and content are less important. Students, and the workforce, need to know how to think critically, find and evaluate information, work in teams, communicate effectively, solve problems and apply knowledge and skills to new things and be able to learn on their own. These are some of the "21st Century Skills" that have been talked about for years. I agree that these are the most important skills and I feel that Project Based Learning is one of the best ways to teach these skills. 

I learned many of these skills in college because even 20 years ago, my school, WPI, understood these ideas. The WPI Plan is an excellent model of project based learning, core competencies, and needed skills. This base has allowed me to be successful as an engineer, and successfully transition to being an educator. It has also helped me to learn on my own.

Research by the Institute for the Future released in a report entitled “Future Work Skills 2020″ shows that preparing for a specific career area based on content is difficult and, instead, people should be developing certain broad skills. These same skills are important for our students to learn. The report explains each of the skills in detail, and also goes into the implications for education and policies. 

Here are the skills:

Sense-making. The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed

Social intelligence. The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions

Novel and adaptive thinking. Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based

Cross-cultural competency. The ability to operate in different cultural settings

Computational thinking. The ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning

New-media literacy. The ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms and to leverage these media for persuasive communication

Transdisciplinarity. Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines

Design mind-set
. Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes

Cognitive load management. The ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques

Virtual collaboration. The ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team


The Single Spine Salary Structure
by A.  Kwame Apedzi, 

Monthly salary forms part of entire conditions of service of a worker. But higher attention has been given to salary these days by public and civil servants. Other conditions to facilitate smooth work are not ignored, but salary seems to solve major financial problems hence the attention it is receiving. There are several salary structures for Public and Civil servants with different level of progression. This has been described by Consultants as unfair. Government has therefore demonstrated the willingness to bring similarity or equity in these salary structures. Elementary biology teaches us that, the spine holds all parts of the body together. I believe hence the adoption of the accolade "Single Spine Salary Structure".(SSSS). This is to bring the different salary structures together in the public and civil services.

Prelude to SSSS

Four areas received attention by a team put together by Government, according to a team member Tony Oduro. This include the examination of the current : Pay Administration, Job Analysis, Job Evaluation and Pay Equity (Single Spine)

 Pay Administration

It was established that the major weakness of previous pay reform initiatives was the absence of a legally mandated institution with the definitive responsibility for everything related to pay, across the public sector. Fair Wages & Salaries Commission was therefore established to do the following:

  • Ensure fair, transparent and consistent implementation of Government's public sector pay policy;
  • Manage and coordinate all negotiations where compensation is financed from the Consolidated Fund.
  • To advise Government and ensure decisions are implemented on all matters related to salaries, wages, grading, classification, conditions of service, job analysis and job evaluation, performance management and indicators, allowance and benefits across the public sector among others.

 Service institutions were then classified for easy identification as follows:

  1. Public Policy, Planning, Service, Administration and Related Services (PPPSARS) (Incl. Local Government Services)
  2. Health Services
  3. Education (Non-Tertiary)
  4. Education (Tertiary), Science & Research
  5. Revenue and Accounting Services
  6. Security Services
  7. Legal and Judicial Services
  8. Sub-vented (Commercial & Non-Commercial)
  9. Regulators

Job Analysis

Thirty-five (35) Human Resource Managers were drawn from thirty-five (35) public sector institutions from February - August 2007. They reviewed the questionnaires used to gather data, the methodology and participated in other planning activities. Additional eighty-two (82) human resource management practitioners were drawn from forty (40) public sector institutions between March to July 2007 to do the following:

  • Select benchmark jobs across public sector
  • Administer Job analysis questionnaires to more than 5000 job holders
  • Analysed jobs, develop job descriptions and persons specifications.

 Job Evaluation

Job descriptions and specifications of the various institutions were evaluated.

Evaluation points for each job were summed up to determine the ‘ job worth'.

Consultants did quality control on all job evaluations. Job Evaluation Factors were grouped into four (4) items for analysis:

  • Knowledge & skill
  • Responsibility
  • Effort
  • Work Conditions

The above four (4) factors have thirteen (13) sub-factors to measure attributes of all jobs that are considered relevant to any job and for which some pay is given (compensable factors)

 Health sector representatives from organised labour and the teaching hospitals agreed on the following weighting which is not too different from international standard:

 Factor Weighting : Health Workers

Knowledge and Skills




Work Environment







Factor Weighting: Security Forces (Just for your study)

Knowledge and Skills




Work Environment






However, it was established that supply and demand factors require that some jobs in short supply are paid higher.


 Single Spine Salary Structure

The proposed Single Spine Salary Structure therefore has the following objectives to:

—  Ensure all jobs within same job value range are paid within same pay range - equity

—  Place all public sector employees on one pay structure

—  Enable compliance and monitoring pay structures of semi-autonomous institutions

—  Enable Government to manage the wage bill more effectively

—  Minimise issues related to pay distortions and the number of labour negotiations

—  Transparency across the public sector as there will  only be one structure

—  The SSSS begins at the minimum wage

—  Increment would be negotiated between Government and organised labour, among others



Fair Wages & Salaries Commission (FW&SC) has the legal mandate to implement the pay policies once approved by Government. The proposed salary structure, according to Government officials, is going through the necessary scrutiny to be implemented by next year. (2010). It is not known whether our current salary would be increased, maintained or decreased when the proposed SSSS is implemented.  Hopefully, all components of the Condition of Service for health workers may be attended to, with the implementation the of the new salary structure to promote work and happiness.


Published in Korle Bu Bulletin ( Official mouth piece of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital)