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21st Century Skills Explained

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

In the 21st century, the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and this requires a set of skills that are different from those that were needed in the past. These skills are commonly referred to as "21st century skills," and they include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), these skills are becoming increasingly important in the job market, and they are predicted to be in even higher demand in the future.


Child interacting with robot
21st Century Skills Explained

21st Century Skills Explained


So why do children need these skills? For one, they will help prepare them for the ever-changing job market. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) may need to switch occupational categories by 2030 due to automation and AI. This means that many traditional jobs may disappear, and new ones will emerge. To succeed in this new job market, children will need to be adaptable, innovative, and able to work collaboratively with others.


In addition to preparing children for the job market, 21st century skills are also essential for everyday life. They help children become better problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and communicators, which are skills that will serve them well in all areas of their lives, not just in their careers. Learning outside the classroom is well positioned to fill in many of these gaps, however we will need to re-think our education system if we are going to future-proof the next generation of children.


In this blog post: 21st Century Skills Explained, I will focus on how we might be able to future -proof the next generation of children.


Re-Thinking Our Education System


To ensure that children are equipped with these skills, we need to re-think our education system. According to a report by the National Education Association, traditional education systems often focus on rote memorisation and standardised testing, which do not promote the development of 21st century skills. Instead, we need to move towards a more student-centred approach that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. In other words, we need an education system which more closely mimics the way the real world works, rather than focusing on getting children to rote learn information and test whether they managed to memorise it all in a standardised test.


21st Century Skills Explained
A Traditional Classroom

Future-Proofing the Next Generation


In a world where the combined knowledge of humanity is only a Google click away and jobs are replaced by AI at an unstoppable pace, new and inspiring approaches to teaching and learning are urgently needed to make sure today's children are future-proof and ready for whatever the 21st century throws at them. One of the most promising ways to do this is by incorporating project-based learning (PBL), where students work on real-world problems and collaborate with others to find solutions. It can also involve incorporating technology inside the classroom and beyond, such as using virtual reality to create immersive learning experiences that engage students and help them develop critical thinking skills.


21st Century Skills Explained
Does Project-Based Learning (PBL) Have the Answer?

In essence, 21st century skills are becoming increasingly essential for children to succeed in the ever-changing job market and in everyday life. To ensure the next generation are equipped with these skills and ready for the future, we need to re-think our education system and move towards a more student-centred approach that promotes creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. By doing so, we can prepare our children for a brighter future that is full of opportunities.


Sources:

- World Economic Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report 2020. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020

- McKinsey Global Institute. (2017). Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages

- National Education Association. (2018). Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator's Guide to the "Four Cs". Retrieved from https://www.nea.org/sites/default/files/Preparing%2021st%20Century%20Students%20for%20a%20Global%20Society%20%20An%20Educator%27s%20Guide%20to%20the%20Four%20Cs_0.pdf


 

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