Top Ten 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs

21st century skillsThe term 21st century skills refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed by educators, college professors, employers, and others to be critically important for success in today’s rapidly changing world, regardless of one’s career aspirations. Synonyms for 21st century skills include names such as essential skills, applied skills, competencies, college/career readiness skills, transferable skills, and soft skills.

Generally speaking, 21st century skills can be applied across every subject area, and in all educational, career, and civic settings. These skills are important because they prepare students for success in college, the workplace, and life. In the modern information age, just having access to information is not enough. Students must also know how to make use of that information.

The 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills

Some sources have identified the four most important skills that every learner needs for success in school, work and life. They are called the Four C’s:

  1. Creativity – the ability to think outside the box.
  2. Critical thinking – analyzing issues and solving problems.
  3. Collaboration – working together to achieve a common goal.
  4. Communication – being able to effectively convey your ideas.

“Top Ten” 21st Century Skills

A list of “Top Ten” 21 Century Skills was developed by New World of Work (NWoW), under the auspices of the California Community Colleges system, which is the largest higher education system in the nation serving over 2.1 million students each year. Their list is as follows:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Self-Awareness
  3. Digital Fluency
  4. Communication
  5. Collaboration
  6. Empathy
  7. Analysis/Solution Mindset
  8. Resilience
  9. Entrepreneurial Mindset
  10. Social/Diversity Awareness

NWoW provides FREE downloadable lessons and videos to help instructors teach 21st Century Employability Skills. Their high school lesson series includes facilitated instruction, videos, and practice activities to be used within high school classes, youth programs, college/career counseling, workshops, etc. The high school content consists of one lesson module per skill, divided into four sections to cover all four traits, or learning outcomes, of that skill. Each module includes:

  • Lesson plan PDF for easy use by instructors
  • Word Doc version of the lesson for edits/additions
  • Power Point presentation
  • Supplementary handouts (where applicable)

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