What are 21st-Century Skills?

Whether you are in school, or entering the workforce, keeping up with the always-changing landscape of our world will require more than just book smarts. Enter 21st-century skills! 21st-century skills are qualities and abilities that are important for everyone to develop in order to be successful in today’s world. There are 12 total skills, and they are grouped into three categories: Learning, Literacy, and Life.


21st-century learning skills include creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. These are sometimes collectively referred to as the 4C’s, and they prepare individuals to thrive and be successful in complex life and work environments.
Being able to think creatively and critically enables individuals to try new approaches, think innovatively and inventively, work through problems,  discover facts, engage with the world critically, and make good judgments and decisions.
Collaboration and communication skills prepare individuals to be able to work with others to reach a goal, address problems and find solutions collectively, all while sharing their ideas and questions clearly and effectively.


21st-century literacy skills include information literacy, media literacy, and technology literacy. All of these encompass reading and understanding information whether it is online or otherwise.
With information literacy, you understand how to access the information you need, evaluate that information to see if it is a source that you can trust, and use the information to solve your problem/address your need.
Media literacy is what you need to not only analyze and evaluate different types of media, but also to create and share your own media effectively and ethically.
When you are technology literate, you understand how to use the tools technology provides as a way to solve your problem or meet your needs. It also includes understanding how to evaluate the ethical use of technology, and how to use it responsibly.


21st-century life skills include flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills. We need these life skills in order to keep up with the ever-changing world we live in. Strong 21st-century life skills keep us flexible and able to adapt to these changes. They provide us with self-direction and initiative, the ability to set reasonable and achievable goals, as well as tools for how to work professionally and respectfully with others. Individuals with strong life skills value diverse ideas and understand that they can contribute to creativity and innovation.

Remember, it takes time to develop a new skill, but 21st-century skills are worth the time, research and practice! Be open to the experience, and look for ways that you can apply them to all different aspects of your life. With 21st-century skills in your corner, you can take on the world!

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