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21st century skills for students

Are we teaching our children the skills that will help them deal with unknowns of the future? Here is a list of skills we think will be useful in future. A holistic learning is a good approach. SchoolBUS promotes holistic learning.
Skills of the future

Literacy meant the ability to read and write up until the end of 20th century. The world is becoming more and more digital with vanishing boundaries. Apart from Digital literacy students need to have a modern worldview and the ability to conduct ethical interactions.

In today's world there is no dearth of information. Everything is easily available online. Students needs to learn how to access the right information in the shortest possible time. More importantly, they need to learn how to process and analyze this information to arrive at right decisions. Online social media has redefined human interactions and created new opportunities as well as challenges in managing social situations.

Business leaders often cite soft skills as being the most important driver of success in the workplace. Are you creating loners - who can't mingle or communicate?

The truth is that schools need to also prepare students for jobs that might not exist today. Tesla, Facebook, AWS, iPhone, Android , Airbnb, Twitter - did not exist in 2002!! Just 2 decades ago. Holistic learning should prepare students for the unknown.

Theoretical knowledge of subjects is important as it forms the base of learning but students need to know how to apply this knowledge to solve complex problems.

Are our schools and teachers equipped to provide education in a fast changing world?

Schools need to think if they are:

  1. Teaching their students skills that will stand them good even in the future. A future that is technology driven. Where many of the professions of the day will just not exist. Or professions that do not exist today will be created.

  2. Teaching students enough life-skills. More technology and more individualism means the need for a strong character.

  3. Imparting a broader worldview. Empathy and understanding for different cultures, nationalities and races. Ability to understand geopolitics, propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.

  4. Teaching children to excel in an online world. Like it or not the world is becoming more and more connected.

Listed below are skills that a modern students should have. Some if these skills are not new but become more important now because of the changes going around the world.

Digital Literacy

Knowledge of the digital tools and media at an early age is necessary now a days. Children need to have the foundation of digital literacy as the world is becoming more and more digital.

Ability to use laptop and other devices for accessing media is a skill most Gen-Z children are naturally learning these days. Using internet safely, keeping ones personal information safe, not sharing one identity with strangers, posting content on public platform, protecting ones digital property online, managing reputation online are all important aspects that children should be taught.

Information is available easily. What is needed is the ability to access it and use it to arrive at right decision quickly.


Effective communication has always been a key skill. It has been the most important life skill for centuries. Good communication is required for negotiation, presentation, express ones ideas, likes & dislikes.

A General needs good communication skills to command his troops. A successful business or a political leader is a good communicator. Even within a team one needs to connect and communicate well. Communication is not oratory. One needs to be able to express himself , share and demand clearly.

Communicating effectively in a global world where people come form different cultural background is an important skill. Lack of communication skills is a big hindrance for a career.

A sub-skill to communication is presentation skills. Good communication and presentation skills help build a great self brand.

Team Work

Teamwork like communication has always been important. Sports has always been about the team. A business corporation is a group of people working towards a common goal. Any area that makes a societal impact needs a group of people working together.

This is one trait that employers seek in their hires. Individual brilliance without the ability to work within a team is of little use.

The best super power any human has had is the ability to build/lead teams. Negative people don't make it very far in life. Being nice to team members and succeeded together is a great quality.

Ability to work with people across the world from different cultures and background is an important skill in the modern world.


In our pursuit to learn technology, we are missing the finer skills in our society. Technology is decreasing our ability to understand the world around us. Modern-day technology is taking away from us our capacity for wisdom. Wisdom and the ability to take decision separates human being from robots. According to Tristan Harris 'Technology is downgrading humans'.

With AI knocking on the doors, it is a matter of time when most of the work will be accomplished by machines and algorithms, only cheaper and faster. The one thing that will separate humans from machines will be the ability to create something new. This is a good skill to have in future.

Empathy & Ethics

The irony of the modern times is that non-living objects are getting more connected and the living human beings are getting increasingly disconnected with each other! Good human beings understand and try to share the pain of colleagues, friends and people around them. A good team player or a leader is empathetic. Empathy creates a happy world around us.

Ethics are important in dealings. Materialistic leanings can foster greed and envy. If successful, children should be humble and continue to work hard. Values are important so that they are grounded even when they achieve super success. There are numerous examples of athletes, sportspersons and movie stars achieving success early in life only to lose focus and end up in penury.

Most of these skills, barring the digital literacy, are more of soft-skills. A holistic approach towards learning is always good. The future needs the ability to deal with unknowns and our children should be taught every skill that help them do so.


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