21st Century Skills for Students

myCBSEguide App

myCBSEguide App

CBSE, NCERT, JEE Main, NEET-UG, NDA, Exam Papers, Question Bank, NCERT Solutions, Exemplars, Revision Notes, Free Videos, MCQ Tests & more.

Install Now


The 21st century is the century of technology and innovations where all human beings are connected with each other and working in a collaborative way. Critical thinking and a creative mindset are two basic skills that every 21st-century student must have to face the challenges of life in this era.

In this article, we will discuss, what are 21st-century skills and why students must acquire these 21st-century skills.

21st Century Skills

Although there is no clear-cut definition of 21st-century skills yet broadly these are some skills that one must have to live in this technologically advanced global environment. The 21st Century Skills are the skills that are required by an individual for his/ her holistic development so that he/she can contribute to the progress and development of his society/ nation and world.

These skills are broadly divided into three parts:

Learning Skills: skills required for the acquisition of new knowledge.

Literacy Skills: skills that help in creating and gaining new knowledge through reading, media and digital resources

Life Skills: skills required for successfully leading an everyday life.

If we further elaborate them we can classify them as below:

Learning Skills (4Cs): Critical Thinking, Creativity & Innovation, Collaboration, Communication.

Literacy Skills (IMT): Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Technology Literacy.

Life Skills (FLIPS): Flexibility and Adaptability, Leadership and Responsibility, Initiative and Self-Direction, Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction.

(1) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical Thinking is the capability of objective analysis of information and includes the following qualities:

  • fairness and open-mindedness;
  • activeness and being informed;
  • willingness to question or to entertain doubts;
  • being independent.
  • recognizing and assessing values, peer pressure and the media influences

Problem Solving is the skill of:

  • identifying the relevant piece of information when faced with a mass of data (most of which is irrelevant),
  • discarding information that may not be useful to give new information, and finally,
  • relating one set of information to another in a different form by using experience, relating new problems to ones we have previously solved.

(2) Creativity And Innovation

These are the skills to explore and create fresh ways of thinking. Creativity refers to a new way of seeing or doing things and includes four components:

  • fluency (generating new ideas),
  • flexibility (shifting perspective easily),
  • originality (conceiving of something new), and
  • elaboration (building on others’ ideas).

Innovative Skills mean skills for thinking creatively to develop something new/unique/improved/distinctive.

(3) Collaboration

Collaboration is the ability to effectively work together with others. This skill involves working together while taking actions respecting others’ needs and perspectives and contributing to and accepting the finale. Collaboration helps to develop interest and fun in the teaching learning process. It effectively broadens the cultural, social, and environmental boundaries and helps a child to understand social and environmental concerns better.

(4) Communication

Communication refers to the ability to express one’s opinions, desires, needs, apprehensions etc. oneself appropriately, verbally and non-verbally.

(5) Literacy Skills

Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Technology Literacy. These skills involve the ability to access information (traditional or digital), media and technology, to understand and critically evaluate different aspects of content and information and create and communicate effectively.

(6) Flexibility and Adaptability

Flexibility and Adaptability refer to a person’s ability to change his actions and steps taken by him according to a new situation, and efficiently facing an unprecedented sitiation, without compromising on ethics and values.

Adaptability can be defined as creating modifications or changes in oneself to suit the new environment. For students, these can be understood as the skills required to be flexible and adaptive to the situations around them and find the best possible solution to go forward despite adverse conditions.

(7) Leadership And Responsibility

Leadership is the ability to lead a team and be capable of effective team management in relation to real world challenges. These skills teach a child how to support the development of key personal qualities such as perseverance, being committed and responsible, resilience and self-confidence and how to foster a commitment to life-long learning.

Being Responsible means being a good and effective/ sensitive citizen. Be aware of the important social and national issues that may have an impact on our daily lives both as a human-being and as a student, be aware of the important social and national issues that may have an impact on lives in future both as a human -being and as a student, be aware of our fundamental duties and rights and embed the core democratic values of India and strive to live by them.

(8) Initiative and Self Direction

Initiation skill involves the ability to begin a task independently. It helps the child to build his/her own path of development.

Self-direction is a skill to work with integrity on selfmotivation and taking initiatives.

(9) Productivity and Accountability

Productivity in the student can be understood as fulfilment of any task within a given time period.

Accountability can be understood as feeling responsible for any task done. Developing these skills in a student helps him/her to work effectively and also make him/ her reliable for other peers by being accountable for his/her actions.

(10) Social and Cross Cultural Interaction

These are the skills to communicate, work collaboratively and effectively in diverse social and cultural environments.



Leave a Comment