21st Century Skills

What are 21st century skills?

21st century skills are a set of skills and knowledge that students will need to prepare them for the world in which they will live and work. The problem is that, because the world is changing so fast, no one knows how that world will look or what jobs our students will have. To address this problem, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has created a framework that identifies what it thinks are essential skills to allow students to adapt to new situations:

Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes

Core Subjects:
  • Economics
  • Foreign languages
  • Fine arts
  • Geography
  • Government and civics
  • History
  • Language arts
  • Math
  • Science

21st Century Themes, to be integrated into the core subjects:
  • Civic literacy
  • Financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy
  • Health literacy
  • Global awareness

Learning and Innovation Skills

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking and problem solving

Information, Media and Technology Skills

  • ICT literacy (information, communication and technology)
  • Information literacy
  • Media literacy

Life and Career Skills

  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Initiative and self-direction
  • Leadership and responsibility
  • Productivity and accountability
  • Social and cross-cultural skills

On July 15, 2010, P21 released a 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts. You can find the document here.

The enGauge 21st Century Skills

The Metiri Group and NCREL have created an alternate framework for 21st century skills:

Digital Age Literacy

  • Basic, scientific, economic and technological literacy
  • Visual and information literacy
  • Multicultural literacy and global awareness

Inventive Thinking

  • Adaptability, managing, complexity and self-direction
  • Curiosity, creativity and risk-taking
  • Higher-order thinking and sound reasoning

Effective Communication

  • Teaming, collaboration and interpersonal skills
  • Personal, social and civic responsibility
  • Interactive communication

High Productivity

  • Prioritize, plan and manage for results
  • Effective use of real-world tools
  • Relevant, high-quality products


enGauge 21st Century Skills PDF
Gateway to 21st Century Skills teaching community
Teaching for Artistic Behavior Supports 21st Century Skills
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Thinkfinity resources for educators

From Bruce Schauble's blog "Throughlines" - "Building T-Shaped People". This is a great reflection on the debate/conflict between whether teachers should teach the depth of a subject and/or the breadth of a subject within a 21st century framework.