Skills for the 21st century: Implications for education
The world is changing rapidly in a lot of ways, but the dominant change is in ICT.Changing technology has far-reaching implications for how we act and interact at work,in education, in civic life and at home. Furthermore, this change is in large part the drivingforce behind many of the other major changes, such as globalization and flexibilizationThese changes have led many scholars to point to a new set of skills – the so-called21st century skills – that are thought to be essential for people’s ability to functionand participate fully in today’s world. While we do not dispute the importance of these21st century skills, we do caution against blindly pursuing these skills and neglectingother more traditional classes of skill, such as basic skills (reading and math) as well asspecialized knowledge and abilities – the so-called specific skills.Educational policy and practice should proceed from the insight that skills of individualhuman beings form a complete interdependent package of all these three kinds ofskills: basic skills, specific skills and 21st century skills. It is far more fruitful to view 21stcentury skills in relation to the basic skills that underlie them and the specific skills thatthey combine with in concrete purposive action.In this essay we present a framework for the evaluation of what we know about ourcurrent situation in terms of various kinds of skills and learning which alerts us to gapsin our knowledge that need to be filled for future policy purposes. It also performs asimilar function when looking at the challenges facing education and what educationcan do to meet these challenges.
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