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Twenty-first century skills

An overarching concept for the knowledge, skills and attitudes citizens need to be able to fully participate in and contribute to the knowledge society. This need is mostly attributed to the changes in society, and more particularly, to the rapid development of technology and its impact on the way people live, work and learn. While in the industrial society the main focus of education was to contribute to the development of factual and procedural knowledge, in the information or knowledge society the development of conceptual and metacognitive knowledge is increasingly considered important. Furthermore, the changes in economy and the labour market caused by globalization and internationalization are an important driving force for the need of 21st century skills. Different organizations, including also partnerships and consortia, have defined and endorsed core competences/skills frameworks using different foci, emphases, groupings and terminologies. Most frameworks seem to converge on a common set of 21st century skills or competences, namely: collaboration; communication; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy; and social and/or cultural competencies (including citizenship). Most frameworks also mention creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. Across the various frameworks it is acknowledged that ICT is at the core of 21st century skills. Specifically, it is regarded as both (a) an argument for the need of 21st century skills, and (b) a tool that can support the acquisition and assessment of these skills. In addition, the rapid development of ICT requires a whole new set of competences related to ICT and technological literacy.
(Adapted from: Lai & Viering 2012).

See also ‘Key competences/competencies or skills’.

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