Are the skills we're teaching young New Zealanders the skills that the 21st century needs?

Good people are not their qualifications or their grades. They are adaptive, willing to learn, resilient, collaborative and have a mindset geared towards growth.

We call these 21C skills.


A survey of large businesses placed these traits even above specific work experience in terms of value. Today these traits are typically only taught incidentally in our schools, which retain a twentieth century flavour and offer almost no exposure to the real world of work.

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Digital fluency
Knowing when and how to use specific digital technologies to achieve a desired outcome.

Knowing how to develop, organise and manage an innovative venture or project.

Financial literacy
Being able to make informed judgments and effective decisions on the use and management of money.

Design thinking
Knowing how to take a structured approach to generating and developing ideas.

Knowing how to keep yourself physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually healthy.

Global competence
Being able to examine local and global issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives, interact successfully with others and take responsible action towards sustainability.


Being able to produce new and useful ideas.

Critical thinking
Being able to reason effectively, use systems thinking
and make judgments and decisions.

Collaborative problem solving
Being able to work together with others to solve a problem.

Knowing how to share information in order to convey meaning and achieve outcomes.


Being able to work, plan and get things done in the face of obstacles.

Understanding and caring about other people and enjoying working in a team.

Being able to cope with stress and remain composed under pressure.


Being curious about the world and open to new ideas


Growth mindset
Believing you can grow skills through hard work and good strategies.

Goal-setting and planning

Being able to set and monitor your own learning goals.

What is at stake?

We are heading into a world where many New Zealanders will have outdated skills, susceptible to automation and offshoring, and not well-matched to new and emerging jobs.

If we do nothing, this could mean high unemployment and companies struggling to find employees with the right skills. This would mean a huge drain on New Zealand’s resources and potential (not to mention the happiness and wellbeing of those without the right skills).

We urgently need our education system to recognise the new 21C skillset that has been widely and globally identified as that needed to thrive in the new world of work – and to teach young New Zealanders those skills as core.

If we choose to act – to reorient our education system around the skills most important to this century - we have the exciting opportunity to give young New Zealanders a huge head start in tomorrow’s world of work.

Four Critical Audiences

young people

Do they understand the 21C skills employers need and how to make good education and career choices?


Do they know how to assess and develop 21C skills, and to guide 21C education and career choices?


Do they understand the word of work their children need to prepare for?


Are they communicating the 21C skills they value, and helping young people in education and in work to develop them?

An aligned movement

To create meaningful and sustainable change, we work across the education, business and policy sectors to align vision and efforts.


An aligned movement of leading NZ organisations who recognise the need for a radically new 21C skills focus in education


School Partners

School communities from across the country committed to ensuring their students are ready for the 21C work environment


Learning Partners

Stand-out organisations already working to support 21C development in key areas eg. digital literacy


Tertiary Partner

Leading institution committed to rethinking 21C skills development and educator skills


Organisational Partners

• Major and/or fast-growing NZ employers leading in growth areas for the NZ economy

• Government agencies focused on business growth, skills and young people