Skip to main content
What are 21st century skills anyway?
FRIDAY, AUGUST 08, 2014 09:25 AM

Educators, business experts and innovators all say we need to have 21st century skills. They especially press that children should learn these abilities in school. In fact, when describing the Common Core State Standards, many supporters will say that they are designed to teach students 21st century skills to prepare them for college and careers. But exactly which abilities make the list? And, for that matter, why are they so important? Here are the skills people are talking about when they bring up the 21st century, and why you should care about them:

Teamwork and collaboration
Students need to be able to pull together and work as a team in order to succeed, not only in school but in their jobs. Professionals working today are valuable if they know how to step off their soap box and find benefit in the ideas of others. Employers want to hire people who can work well with their peers.

Why it matters: Even the most brilliant person in a room won't think of all the possible ways to handle a certain scenario. People think differently, so working in groups gives teams a whole smorgasbord of innovation. A group mind is more likely to solve a problem faster than an individual one.

Critical thinking
The ability to think critically is a skill you'll hear a lot surrounding the Common Core State Standards. Of course, these Standards emphasize critical thinking for a reason. Employers want their workers to exhibit these abilities because being able to break down a scenario and see it from all angles is an advantage. Students and career-driven people alike need to put their rational mind to use in daily life, and at work or school. 

Why it matters: Critical thinking is an all-around important skill to have, but it holds particular weight in the modern age. Technology changes quickly, and with it, the way business works. One small change in a certain software program or Internet platform will alter the way businesses operate. Employees need to keep up with these changes and adapt. For this reason, critical thinking is among the most emphasized in schools that have adopted Common Core.

Creativity and adaptability
Though on the surface, you may not pair creativity and adaptability, the two are intrinsically linked. By being able to think outside the box, a person can adapt to his or her surroundings - he or she can imagine a new solution to a problem.

Why it matters: Companies increasingly look for creative people. These candidates are the ones they expect to change the industry for the better or help the company adapt to technology.