Our 21C skills framework

21C skills are the essential set of knowledge, abilities and personal qualities required to thrive in tomorrow’s rapidly changing world of work.

These skills are not specific technical competencies but generic skills that underpin many jobs. In a world where technical skills are constantly changing and individual knowledge is far less valuable, these broad “how to” skills are critical.

Many different frameworks for 21C skills have been promulgated internationally, but we are all essentially talking about the same things.

There are four key categories: 

  1. Knowing the new basics in areas like digital and global working, design and entrepreneurship
  2. An ability to use that knowledge to achieve results, through creative and critical thinking, working collaboratively to solve problems and communicate results
  3. Being curious, tenacious, organised, emotionally resilient and a team player
  4. Having a growth mindset that keeps you learning, unlearning and relearning


The “be” skills

The “be” skills are the social and emotional learning (“SEL”) skills or character strengths that a significant body of evidence shows predict academic achievement, career success and lifelong well-bring. They contribute as much or more than academic skills in helping students succeed. Evidence also shows that SEL skills are not fixed but can be developed with targeted intervention.

There are 6 key skill areas, with a number of facets important in an education and career context:

Skill/ strength Students high in this tend to be...
1) Tenacity – Persistent
– Effortful
– Goal-oriented
– Mastery-oriented
– Those that exceed expectations
– Those who pursue challenges

2) Organisation – One who pays attention to detail
– Thorough
– Reliable
– Consistent
– Responsible
– Prepared

3) Teamwork – Pleasant
– Co-operative
– Sensitive to others
– Helpful
– Easy to get along with
– Caring

4) Composure/ resilience – Poised
– Flexible
– Good at dealing with stress
– Good at dealing with criticism
– Good at dealing with setbacks
– Restrained

5) Curiosity – Creative and innovative
– Open-minded
– Thoughtful
– Accepting of differences in people
– “Thinkers” and problem solvers
– Interested in different types of people and points of view

6) Leadership – Those who take charge
– Persuasive
– Assertive
– Cheerful and optimistic
– Those who express themselves easily
– Confident