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13 Essential 21st Century Skills for

Todays Students
Educators and workforce experts alike often warn that our children need
improved 21st century skills. Without these skills, they will not be able to
successfully participate in the global economy. They won’t be adequately
prepared for college and work.

But what, exactly, are 21st century skills? Are we just talking about computer
and technology skills? And who decides which skills make the list?

It depends on who you ask. But a Hanover Research report, A Crosswalk of

21st Century Skills, sheds some light on the subject.

More than Computers & Technology

Hanover Research recently analyzed six major educational frameworks

designed to improve the development of 21st century skills. This included
frameworks and critical skills listed by the Partnership for 21st Century
Skills, Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills, the Metiri Group’s enGauge
framework, the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills, developed by the Iowa
Department of Education, the Connecticut State Department of Education and
the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S).

While each framework has slightly different list of critical 21st century skills, all
agree on four critical areas for development:

 Collaboration and teamwork

 Creativity and imagination
 Critical thinking
 Problem solving

“It is easy to see how these skills could be valuable to a new high school
graduate and to employers, as well as how these skills can easily interact with
one another,” according to the Hanover Research report. Others, such as the
research division of the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, draw similar
conclusions from the various frameworks on 21st century skills.

“More than technological expertise, 21st century skills refer to content

knowledge, literacies and proficiencies that prepare individuals to meet the
challenges and opportunities of today’s world,” stated the Kamehameha
Schools report, An Overview of 21st Century Skills.

Other Critical Skills for Success

The Hanover Research analysis also identifies a second tier of important 21st
century skills, present in five of the six major frameworks:

 Flexibility and adaptability

 Global and cultural awareness
 Information literacy
 Leadership

The following skills were present in four of the six frameworks:

 Civic literacy and citizenship

 Oral and written communication skills
 Social responsibility and ethics
 Technology literacy
 Initiative

“The driving force for the 21st century is the intellectual capital of citizens,”
said the Metiri Group in its white paper, Twenty-First Century Skills. “Political,
social and economic advances in the United States during this millennium will
be possible only if the intellectual potential of America youth is developed

Deeper Dives

In other blog posts, we will continue to provide you with information about
critical success skills for the 21st century. For example, what exactly do we
mean by collaboration and teamwork, or critical thinking? How can we, as
supportive parents, do more to help our sons and daughters develop these
skills? What are the best educational environments for teaching and learning
these skills?

We are also interested in hearing from you about the ways you are helping
young people prepare for a world in need of highly skilled professionals. Just
contact us at if you’d like to share your
story. And, of course, we hope you will consider Envision programs as an
important way to help your children and students develop these critical skills.
We believe our mission is vitally important. We hope you do too.