21st Century Skills

21st Century Skills

What are 21st Century Skills?

The term 21st Century Skills refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed—by educators, school reformers, college professors, employers, and others—to be critically important to success in today’s world.


In simple terms, 21st Century Skills refer to the skills that are required to enable an individual to face the challenges of the 21st century world that is globally-active, digitally transforming, collaboratively moving forward, creatively progressing, seeking competent human-resource and quick in adopting changes.


Components of 21st Century Skills


On the basis of the historical development of 21st Century Skills, it can be stated that 21st century skills broadly consist of three main skill sets or 3 Ls - namely, Learning Skills, Literacy Skills and Life Skills.  

     •        Learning Skills: skills required for the acquisition of new knowledge.

     •        Literacy Skills: skills that help in creating and gaining new knowledge through reading, media and digital resources.

     •        Life Skills: skills required for successfully leading everyday life.


The following flowchart will help you to understand the components of 21st century skills.

4Cs: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Creativity and Innovation, Collaboration, Communication

IMT: Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Technology Literacy

FLIPS: Flexibility and Adaptability, Leadership and Responsibility, Initiative and

Self-Direction, Productivity and Accountability, Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction


Let’s understand each component of the 21st century skills one by one.


1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving


Critical Thinking is the capability of objective analysis of information and includes the following qualities:

• fairness and open-mindedness

• activeness and being informed

• willingness to question or to entertain doubts

• being independent

• recognizing and assessing values


Problem Solving is the skill of:

• identifying the relevant piece of information when faced with a mass of data (most of which is irrelevant)

• discarding information that may not be useful to give new information

• relating one set of information to another in a different form by using experience, relating new problems to ones we have previously solved.


2. Creativity and Innovation


These are the skills to explore and create fresh ways of thinking. Creativity refers to new way of seeing or doing things and includes four components:

• fluency (generating new ideas)

• flexibility (shifting perspective easily)

• originality (conceiving of something new)

• elaboration (building on others' ideas).


Innovative Skills mean skills for thinking creatively to develop something new/ unique / improved / distinctive.


3. Collaboration


Collaboration is the ability to effectively work together with others. This skill involves working together while taking actions respecting others’ needs and perspectives and contributing to and accepting the finale. Collaboration helps to develop interest and fun in the teaching learning process. It effectively broadens the cultural, social, and environmental boundaries and helps a child to understand social and environmental concerns better.


4. Communication


Communication refers to the ability to express one’s opinions, desires, needs, apprehensions etc. oneself appropriately, verbally and non-verbally.


5. Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Technology Literacy


These skills involve the ability to access information (traditional or digital), media and technology, to understand and critically evaluate different aspects of content and information and create and communicate effectively.


6. Flexibility and Adaptability


Flexibility and Adaptability refer to a person’s ability to change his actions and steps taken by him according to a new situation, and efficiently facing an unprecedented situation, without compromising on ethics and values.


Adaptability can be defined as creating modifications or changes in oneself to suit the new environment. For students, these can be understood as the skills required to be flexible and adaptive to the situations around them and find the best possible solution to go forward despite adverse conditions.


7. Leadership and Responsibility


Leadership is the ability to lead a team and be capable of effective team management in relation to real world challenges. These skills teach a child how to support the development of key personal qualities such as perseverance, being committed and responsible, resilience and self-confidence and how to foster a commitment to life-long learning.


Being Responsible means being a good and effective/sensitive citizen. Be aware of the important social and national issues that may have an impact on our daily lives both as a human-being and as a student, be aware of the important social and national issues.


8. Initiative and Self-Direction


Initiation skill involves the ability to begin a task independently. It helps the child to build his/her own path of development.


Self-direction is a skill to work with integrity on self-motivation and taking initiatives.


9. Productivity and Accountability


Productivity in the student can be understood as fulfilment of any task within a given time period.


Accountability can be understood as feeling responsible for any task done. Developing these skills in a student helps him/her to work effectively and also make him/her reliable for other peers by being accountable for his/her actions.


10. Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction


These are the skills to communicate, work collaboratively and effectively in diverse social and cultural environments.


Why Do We Need 21st Century Skills?


Learning is complete and holistic only when a student is able to effectively perform and fulfil his/her responsibilities and duties towards self, school, family, society and above all, the nation. The goal is to enable today’s student to be a good citizen and a responsible human-being who is well-aware of his potential and competence.


Simply teaching to test or learning for exams is not going to help a student face everyday life situations. 21st Century Skills are key to the empowerment of Children and adolescents to deal with the issues and concerns related to their life. They experience a number of feelings, many of which are related to their growth and development from childhood to adolescence and beyond.


Related Topics:

Financial Literacy

Technology Literacy

Cross-curricular Connect

Case Study

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