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The job skills needed for today — and tomorrow — are rapidly changing. Advances in technology mean workers must be trained in cognitive and interpersonal skills that help them adapt to new requirements. These skills are known as 21st century skills. In this Perspective, the authors share research from the private and education sectors on 21st century skills — and suggest ways in which further exploration could inform and improve U.S. Air Force efforts to increase agility of its airmen. The authors give a brief definition of 21st century skills and compare the term's common competencies to those of the Air Force. The research approaches suggested could ultimately inform the continuum of learning and development in the Air Force.

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This research was sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR), and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services, U.S. Air Force (AF/A1) and conducted by the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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