The future we’ve all been talking about — waves of automation, massive employment churn, dire need for upskilling and reskilling — is here. But we’ve yet to build a next generation education model that’s up to the challenge of serving today’s working learners and closing the gap between education and career. To gear up, we need a better way to define, measure, and talk about learning, and competencies give us that language. This paper illustrates how competencies are essential to enabling the agile work-learn model that learners and our country need to thrive.