12 Useful 21st-Century Skills And How They Benefit You

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Focusing on different soft skills, such as personal traits and hard skills, such as technical knowledge can benefit many professionals in a rapidly changing and increasingly international and digital workplace. These abilities can help you find employment in the modern world. Knowing how to obtain and use these skills may help you become a more attractive and efficient candidate for any job. In this article, we identify relevant skills for the 21st century, learn what role they can play in your career and review a list of examples.

What are 21st-century skills?

21st-century skills include the combination of knowledge, life skills and professional abilities that can help an individual succeed in the 21st century. Educators, business leaders and international agencies recognise this mix of talents as skills, proficiencies and qualities important for success today. These skills focus on employees' abilities to succeed in a rapidly evolving, technological age.

Why are 21st-century skills important?

21st-century skills can increase your employability. They allow individuals to learn new skills, unlearn and relearn old practices and help diversify their abilities. These skills help create a foundation for a successful career and typically help individuals flourish in an environment where change is imminent and gaining new knowledge is important. Most organisations want prospective employees who can identify what it means to be a valuable team member. Today, it is helpful to your career to be culturally literate, technologically savvy, socially conscious, think logically and be an excellent communicator. These skills can increase your effectiveness as a professional.

These skills are also remarkably significant for the economy of any country. A vast majority of the business sector requires a working population with 21st-century abilities to maintain relevance in the world's economy. This means that these abilities are important when seeking a high-paying job and progressing your career in the private and public sectors.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

Examples of 21st-century skills

Preparing individuals for a professional career involves empowering them with a complex set of abilities. These skills can prepare them for their future and help them deal with unpredictable situations. Here is a list of examples that can help you prepare for a future position:

Creativity

Many jobs today require creativity. Any company or industry that wants to thrive usually seeks creative professionals. Companies can adapt to shifting markets and tackle potential difficulties by experimenting and trying something different. You can use creative thinking to generate new ideas, shift perspectives and develop unique solutions to issues. This can help you progress in a world that is constantly evolving. You might, for example, identify an outdated computer program and utilise or devise new technology that fits your requirements.

Read more: Creating Thinking: Definition, Development And Advantages

Critical thinking

Critical thinking helps you to discover and appraise a situation using relevant facts and evidence. Using critical thinking skills, you can filter and organise information, data and insights to identify and solve any issue. Skilled professionals can generally think critically to reach workable solutions and rational judgments. Critical thinking abilities enable you to assess a situation objectively, evaluate options and estimate potential consequences. Companies usually value professionals who are proactive enough to expect and plan for future issues before they occur.

Read more: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

Collaboration

Collaboration is another important skill that can help you advance in your profession, regardless of your role. Collaboration involves being a good listener, engaging and cooperating with others to reach a specific goal. Organisations may employ individuals who are experts in their fields and highly knowledgeable. Being able to work with others means you can benefit from their expertise. Collaboration skills teach you to be more versatile and make important allowances and adjustments to improve your team's overall performance and boost productivity.

Read more: Collaboration Skills: Definition, Benefits And Examples

Communication

Developing excellent communication skills can assist you in presenting objectives, duties and requirements clearly to all parties. This might indicate that your team is getting extremely reliable information and can operate smoothly. Skills like verbal and written communication, listening and presentation can also help convey your suggestions to your bosses and clients, which might increase productivity and profit. Being skilled at using and knowing the correct etiquette for various communication channels can often be very useful.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

Information and media literacy

Information literacy is important whether you are researching the market, preparing a report or evaluating a presentation. It is important to recognise trustworthy and factually correct information to make intelligent and educated decisions in your personal and professional lives. Mastering information literacy involves knowing how to locate information, analyse its accuracy and adapt it to various scenarios. Media literacy skills can assist you in identifying credible sources for news, empirical studies and other data from a variety of platforms.

Technological literacy

It is important to possess a strong foundation of computer abilities in the 21st century as technology becomes more widespread in the workplace. Today's workspace is rich in technology, ranging from online calendars to accounting software to project management tools. Possessing basic digital literacy skills might make it easier for you to grasp a new type of technology for your job or personal use. For instance, digital literacy can help you organise a video call, exchange ideas with your peers and collaborate and communicate effectively.

Related: Basic Computer Skills: Definition And Examples

Social skills

Learning social skills may make it easier for you to work with others, as they show you how to be professional and considerate in the office. If you possess strong social and interpersonal skills, you can usually network more successfully and build stronger ties with peers and prospective clients. Practising these skills can also help you improve other important skills, such as teamwork or leadership. Etiquette, attitude, courtesy and empathy all play important roles in society and might influence business decisions.

Leadership

Leadership skills might include showing initiative, addressing problems, resolving conflict and learning to be accountable for your own actions and those of team members. Effective leaders can assist their colleagues to enhance the quality of their work and boost productivity, which is why most employers generally respect strong leadership skills. Developing your leadership abilities when working on group projects or when you first start in a new position might prepare you for a leadership position in the future and help advance your career.

Adaptability

The job market is dynamic, and versatile professionals are attractive to employers for many reasons. They might work well independently and as a team, whether they are working remotely or in an office. They can take and provide instructions and respond to feedback equally well. If you can adjust to shifting work environments and industry structures, you might become an attractive candidate for a job and a stronger professional overall. Adaptability skills imply you are open to learning new things, taking on additional responsibilities and adjusting to accommodate organisational changes.

Global awareness

In the age of globalisation, many businesses operate worldwide, providing a chance to connect with people from all over the world or work abroad. Learning about various countries and communities, cultural norms and their ways of life might help you appreciate your international team members more and make you adaptable to change. Acknowledging and respecting these differences might help you collaborate more effectively, increase your professional network and potentially find new career prospects.

Decision making

It is important for every professional to be able to make the right decisions for their organisation. Effective decision-making skills can help you approach challenges in the right manner and suggest constructive solutions with the least amount of risk. Decision making is an important talent that involves deciding between various strategies when solving an issue. When looking for prospective employees, most recruiters and hiring managers typically look for this ability in the candidates.

Problem solving

Hiring managers may frequently use the term problem-solving abilities to describe the capacity to manage challenging or unpredictable situations at work skilfully. Individuals who can evaluate various issues and propose quick resolutions are generally in high demand. This skill is also beneficial in other aspects of your professional life, such as network building and day-to-day decision-making. Effective problem solving may also involve technical expertise and specialisations relevant to particular industries or roles. Possessing problem-solving skills generally implies strong analytical, creative and critical thinking abilities.

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