The innovations of the 20th century have completely redefined our world. The new century is poised to reach unimaginable heights of technological and social achievement. As members of the 21st century, we have an obligation to excel in a wide range of studies, industries and professions, but even more so, to successfully combine revolutionary concepts with practical solutions across a diversity of cultural and socio-political landscapes.
As complex as our world may seem, 21st century skills help us use technology and scientific achievements to our advantage by creating greater opportunities for skills and knowledge to be expressed among people around the world. The same creative thinking found in today’s scientific and technological breakthroughs has come to serve as a model for the collaborative, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that modern economies rely on to navigate an ever-evolving world.
What are 21st Century Skills?
21st century skills are defined by a set of 12 competencies that today’s students and professionals rely on to excel in their studies and careers.
The twelve 21st century skills are: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, Technological Literacy, Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity, and Social and Emotional skills.
With 21st century skills, students and professionals can prepare to face the fast pace of modern markets, technologies and innovative changes. Although each skill is unique in its own right, 21st century skills all share a common quality that ensures individual – and at the same time mutual – relevance in the Digital Age.
The 3 Skill Categories of the 21st Century
The twelve 21st century skills fall into 3 categories, which are: Learning Skills, Literacy Skills and Life Skills. Each skill set plays a special role in our ability to leverage our knowledge, creative talents, and unique skills in the 21st century.
Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication (or the 4Cs) are the learning skills of the 21st century, which allow us to adapt to the existing features of our world and express our own innovation ideas to the environment and people around us.
Critical Thinking gives us the opportunity to analyze and provide solutions to problems. It has the power to transform the way we see and experience the world. With Creativity, perspectives can change, imagination becomes reality and thus innovation is born. Collaboration allows those involved to benefit from the combination and sharing of everyone’s knowledge and skills, while Communication is the foundation for successful collaboration and expression of our creativity and critical thinking abilities.
Information/Digital Literacy, Media Literacy and Technological Literacy (or the so-called IMT skills), are the Literacy Skills of the 21st century that we rely on to access knowledge, communicate our interests online and interacting with others in a digital world.
Information/Digital Literacy allows us to understand and analyze the digital data around us, such as distinguishing fact from fiction in an internet article, doing our own research on the topic we are interested in and reaching useful conclusions. Media Literacy is about our ability to isolate valuable sources from the digital environment that is saturated and rife with misinformation. With Technology Literacy, we develop an awareness and understanding of the technology around us and what it does, why it does what it does and how our lives can benefit from its use and the innovations it can bring in the future.
Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity and Social Skills (or FLIP skills), are key skills both personally and professionally for the different roles we are called to have in 21st century.
Flexibility defines our ability to adapt to change and our readiness to correct the very way we think. This skill is invaluable for the 21st century where things are changing rapidly around us – whether we are ready for it or not. With Leadership, a person can take the lead in setting goals, measuring progress, and guiding people to achieve those goals. Initiative defines our ability to operate autonomously and go beyond the established standards of our work – usually with significant rewards. Productivity symbolizes our efficiency and our effectiveness in managing our time based on our prioritization skills, time management and implementing a proper strategy. In the age of technology, Social & Emotional Skills are more important than ever as networking, collaboration and progress are mutual efforts towards common goals and global innovation.