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The 21st Century Skills

The 21st Century Skills

by Ahed Jarayseh -
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According to the OECD in its recent report on the Future of Education and Skills, Education 2030 report, “students who are best prepared for the future are change agents. They can have a positive impact on their surroundings, influence the future, understand others' intentions, actions and feelings, and anticipate the short and long-term consequences of what they do”. For this, they need a broad range of practical and physical skills (e.g. using new information and communication technology devices).”[1] A multitude of concepts have been developed in the past decades to describe the skills that are needed to effectively cope in a fast changing and digital society.


Where previously attention in education was focused on cognitive abilities, knowledge and technical competences, a lot of research has shown that by enhancing the transferrable competences, skills you possess that are useful to employers across various jobs and industries, youth will have a higher change of successful participation in society as active citizens and better manage their lives in an increasing complex world[2]. These transferrable competences have been called Life Skills or 21st Century Skills. These are skills needed both in private and social life but also in working life. Increasingly in Palestine, employers are looking for transferrable skills and labour attitudes besides the technical competences, particularly in younger employees[3]. The project Skilled Young Palestine seeks to increase resilience in Palestine through skills development of vulnerable groups, aiming at increasing employability (leading to stable employment or self-employment).  This will be done by the provision of technical and digital skills training on the one hand and entrepreneurship key competencies and soft skills training on the other hand.

Considering all the different concepts that are overlapping which refer to personal skills, the term ‘21st Century skills’ integrates, learning and innovation skills, digital literacy skills and career and life skills. It is therefore that the term ‘21st Century Skills’ will be used throughout this concept note and throughout the SYP project.

The 21st Century Skills are usually grouped into 3 main areas:

·        Learning and innovation skills: critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, creativity, and innovation

·        Digital literacy skills: information literacy, media literacy, information, and communication technologies

Career and life skills: flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity, and accountability


[1] OECD, European Commission and ETF (preliminary version). SME and Entrepreneurship Development in the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa

[2] OECD, European Commission and ETF (preliminary version). SME and Entrepreneurship Development in the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa

[3] ETF reference SBA and hearings conducted with employers in Gaza and the West Bank in March 2018.