Universal Competencies Home

Why Have Universal Competencies?


What is Competency-based Training?

What are the Universal Competencies?



National parks are America's crown jewels. Their values shine across national and international boundaries. Their treasures demand the stewardship of a system dedicated to their preservation. These invaluable resources shape the fundamental mission and vision of the National Park Service. 

Stewardship, however, requires stewards. Vision implies visionaries. Fulfilling a mission requires staff who understand their agency's mission. The National Park Service has not only cultural and natural resources; but also, "people" resources its employees. To be effective as an organization and to fulfill its mission, the Service must develop competent, dedicated, employees able to achieve organizational goals and provide environmental leadership to a world community. 

Competent, committed, caring of resources and visitors -- the hallmarks of an ideal, dedicated employee. But how, when, and where are these achieved? And more importantly, WHY should any employee, all employees, exhibit these traits? 
An employee is hired first because of basic, job-related skills. These may be in administration, architecture, communications, biological sciences, engineering, computer science or a host of others. These are skills, abilities and knowledge that allow an employee to perform specific tasks. Acquired through schooling, mentoring, self-study or on the job experience, they enable an employee to DO their job. 
Any organization, however, requires more than the basics more than the doing the nine to five employee who performs, but does not contribute; works but is uncommitted; collects a paycheck, but never cares. 

Beyond specific technical skills lies the next level competencies that thread through all disciplines to inculcate the mission of the organization, hone understanding of its values and goals, and prepare the employee for leadership and personal development. The UNIVERSAL COMPETENCIES develop a broader level of competence in Mission Comprehension, Resource Stewardship, Communications, Problem Solving, Agency Orientation and NPS Operations, Fundamental Values, Individual Development and Planning. 

Each of these Universal Competencies covers essential content key to an employee's role as a National Park Service employee and not solely as manager, administrator, ranger, or educator. All of the competencies offer innovative and non-traditional methods for learning. Universal Competencies are not bound within career fields. A basic technical skills level for all disciplines is assumed. A universal skills level, linking all disciplines, is desired. 

A new or existing employee may already be proficient in these skills, or some of them, or target them as a career goal. Since competency development is a lifelong learning experience, employees have the opportunity for continuous self-development; and supervisors, through the Universal Competency curriculum, have the opportunity for measuring this development. Universal skills, fine-tuned in a career vision and strategy, complement and carry out the Service's own strategic planning. Personal growth is organizational growth. Fundamental skills in particular career fields, complemented by universal skills for all fields, creates a vital organization. 

The answer to WHY UNIVERSAL COMPETENCIES? rests solidly on their role as foundation for a shared personal commitment enhancing employee ability to preserve and understand park resources and mission; provide for the public enjoyment; help partners strengthen and preserve our resources; and maintain a strong organization effective in its own commitment to parks and personnel. Essential grounding in these universal fundamentals is a strategy for excellence, forging the National Park Service of the next century by bonding competence with commitment, duties with dedication, both for the present and the future.