In today’s era of great power competition and ever-changing operational environments, the Department of the Air Force has moved toward developing Airmen with foundational competencies that help enable them to out-think and out-perform adversaries.
As part of that effort, the Air Force has formally added “Digital Literacy” and “Fosters Inclusion” as Air Force foundational competencies, and both have been incorporated into the “Pathfinder 2021” self-assessment tool in MyVector that allows Airmen to assess themselves and review resources to further their personal and professional development.
“These two new competencies are part of the promise to continue developing foundational competencies,” said Col. Mark Coggins, Air Education and Training Command Force Development Competencies Division chief. “Expanding an Airman’s self-awareness and allowing them to address their strengths and weaknesses using the MyVector self-assessment tool will help Total Force members grow and develop across all ranks and career fields.”
Digital literacy defines a person who “uses technology to identify, critically evaluate and synthesize data and information; explore, create and manage digital content; and appropriately interact in a virtual environment.”
“Our current National Defense Strategy describes the need for the Department of Defense to modernize analytical and decision-support processes to execute the national defense mission more effectively,” Coggins said. “This requires an increase in the digital literacy of our Airmen, so codifying this skill as foundational competency makes sense.”
Air Force Instruction 36-7001, Diversity and Inclusion, para. 1.4, defines inclusion as “the process of creating a culture where all members of an organization are free to make their fullest contributions to the success of the group, and where there are no unnecessary barriers to success.”
“From a force development perspective, all Airmen, including our civilian force, must be deliberately developed to ‘foster inclusion’ across the Air Force in order to achieve individual, organizational and operational excellence,” Coggins said.
For Airmen who want more information on the new competencies or to take the self-assessment, they can log in to MyVector and select “Air Force Competencies” from the main menu. If desired, the MyVector competency assessment tool also allows Airmen to request feedback from their supervisor and/or 360 degree feedback from subordinates, peers, or higher-ranking members.
When Airmen complete the self-assessment, they can immediately view their results and Personal Improvement Plan. They may revisit the “My Assessments” tab to review their results at any time and/or to request feedback from their supervisor or other members (subordinates, peers, and/or higher-ranking members).
“For Airmen who request 360-feedback, it’s a best practice to tell members to expect a message from MyVector asking them to provide feedback on the assessments,” said Dr. Laura Barron, organizational psychologist with the AETC Foundational Competencies division. “Using the feedback provided from the MyVector competency assessments can be beneficial to Airmen at all ranks or grades, but is especially encouraged for junior Airmen to gain insight into their personal strengths, and set a clear path to professional and personal development to be successful during their career.”
MyVector also provides resources on each foundational competency to educate members to grow and develop in their weaker areas, allowing for Airmen to become multi-capable. Results from the voluntary, confidential 360-feedback tool can also allow Airmen to have deeper and more meaningful discussions with career mentors, Barron said.
Moving forward, AETC’s Force Development Competencies division plans to continue to refine how to capture what an Airman “knows and can do,” as well as increase the capabilities to apply self-assessment results and feedback in other areas of an Airman’s career.