What’s the hype about 21st century skills?

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What’s the hype about 21st century skills?

What’s the hype about 21st century skills?

21st-century skills are the 12 abilities that today‘s student needs to succeed in their career during the information age.

These skills are intended to help students keep up with the lightning pace of today’s modern markets.

The 21st-century skills are broken into 3 categories:

Learning skills (a. k. a ‘the four c’s)

Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication.

Literacy skills (IMT)

Information, Media, Technology.

Life skills (FLIPS)

  • Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity, Social skills

Learning skills teach the student about the mental process required to adapt and improve upon a modern work environment.

Literacy skills focus on how students can discern facts, publishing outlets, and the technology behind them. There is a strong focus on determining reliable sources and factual information and being able to separate it from the misinformation that floods the internet.

Life skills look at the intangible personal and professional qualities of a student’s everyday life.

Let’s break them further:

The four c’s are the most popular of the 21st-century skills and are well known because they are universal needs for any career.


Critical thinking: finding solutions to problems’; it is as simple as that! It is the mechanism that weeds out problems and replaces them with effective effort to find useful results. It is what helps students figure stuff out for themselves when they don’t have a teacher close by.

Creativity: “thinking outside the box”; This skill empowers students to see concepts in a different light, which results in innovation. Learning creativity as a skill pushes an individual to understand that ‘the way things have worked for the past 10 years’ may not be relevant to ‘now’ and not being afraid to implement change.

Collaboration: “working with others”- This skill gets student working together and agreeing on compromises to get the best possible results from problem-solving. The key element of this skill is willingness. All participant has to be willing to sacrifice parts of their own ideas and adopt parts of others’ ideas to gain good results for the success of the group. This means understanding the concept of ‘a greater good’ so thinking about others and not just self.

Communication: ‘talking to others’/relaying information to others’ – Effective verbal and written communication skills are crucial for a student’s everyday life and their future careers.

The ability of a student to relay information efficiently to their team is a pivoted skill to help progress their careers.

Literacy skills: are concerned with different elements in digital comprehension.

Information literacy: ‘understanding facts, figures, statistics, and data’ – It teaches students how to separate facts from fiction, especially information that they encounter online.

Media literacy: ‘understanding the methods and outlet in which information is published’ – This skill is helpful for finding truth in a world that is saturated with information. With it, students can learn which media outlets or format are trustworthy sources of information and which ones to ignore. Without this skill, anything that ‘looks credible’ becomes credible.

Technology literacy: “understanding the machines that make the information age possible’ – This skill gives students the information they need to understand the world of computers, cloud programming, and mobile devices. This understanding removes the intimidating feeling that technology tends to have and as a result, students can play an important role in its evolution and even guide its future.

  • In the final category, life skills relate to more personal skills that can be transferable to a particular setting.

Flexibility: ‘the ability to deviate from plans as required’ – This is the expression of an individual’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and can be challenging for students to learn because it is based on two ‘uncomfortable ideas’ –

  • Your way is not always the best way.
  • You have to know and admit when you are wrong.

This can be a struggle for students because it requires them to show humility and accept that they will always have a lot to learn even when they are “experienced”. However, getting them to understand that knowing when to change, how to change, and how to react to change, is crucial to their long-term success in a career.

Leadership: ‘Motivating a team to accomplish a goal’ – This is when an individual has a natural quality and liking for setting goals, working for a team through the steps required, and achieving those set goals in a collaborative manner.

Initiative: ‘Starting projects, strategies, and plans on one’s own’ – This requires the student to be self-starters and often means going to extra miles to achieve the best possible results, for example working on projects outside of regular working hours.

Productivity: ‘Maintaining efficiency in an age of distractions’ – This is a student’s ability to complete work in an appropriate amount of time. The common goal of any professional is to get more done in less time, by understanding productivity strategies, students discover the ways in which they work best while gaining an appreciation of how others work as well.

Social skills: ‘Meeting and networking with others on mutual benefits’ – Social skills are crucial to the on-going success of a professional and are excellent tools for forging long-lasting relationships. Over the years the rise of social media and instant communication has changed the nature of human interaction while having online social skills may be good, it Is vital to also keep in mind that basic social skills such as etiquette, manners, politeness, and small talk skill play major roles in today’s world.

In conclusion, the hype is that with 21st century skills, when properly learned, students will have the adaptive qualities they need to keep up and thrive in a business environment that is constantly evolving.

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