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Book Chapter

Twenty-first century skills

Across the globe the term “twenty-first century skills” has become the focus of schools for preparation for work and the center of attention for industry leaders to maintain a competitive advantage in our ever-changing, technologically advanced world. Definitions of twenty-first century skills vary, but include lists of similar competencies and proficiencies commonly termed employability skills, soft skills, and hard skills. Career Ready Practices have been identified by the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium/National Career Technical Education Foundation as skills required in 16 career and technical education career clusters that students should know and be able to do upon completion of a program of study. International perspectives of cross-cultural competencies and global awareness have been jointly recognized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a collaborative of 34-member countries which comprise 80% of world trade and investment. As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, to increase productivity and effectively address skills for the future, the international philosophy has become based not on “lifetime employment” but rather on “lifelong employability and lifelong learning.” Many agree that communication skills are the number one competency required to be a successful wage earner. Several lists of twenty-first-century skills are reviewed and presented in summary format to assist the reader in understanding what currently exists in the literature base to better define work readiness in the twenty-first century.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Trends and impacts on the world of work

The world is at the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Already we are using 3D printing to manufacture cars, drones to deliver products and even talking with robots. In the late 1990s, the world was shocked by the emergence of Smartphone equipped with computers, phones and cameras. Now, just 20 years later, we are at the brink of using bio-implantable communication devices. The emergence of such new technologies is dynamic, and it is bringing about radical and holistic changes in the way people live, work, and conduct relationship. These changes are found everywhere, not just in certain elements of society or markets, and happening simultaneously to create a whole new order. That’s why we call the 4IR a revolution, not just a change or transformation. This chapter analysis the current state of dynamic change and an unpredictable future, discusses both positive expectations and negative concerns and implications on societies as humankind has been rearranging its rules and orders to accommodate such technology-led developments. In particular, this chapter examines changes in technological environment, industry and business developments, and changes in economic processes such as shared economy and platform economy. Implication of these changes to role required of humans, its corresponding capabilities and required skills and the structure of labor market will be discussed. And finally, under these circumstances, the role of education will be also discussed.

The changing role of the corporate trainer: The shift from 'training' to 'talent development'

This chapter explains a shift from training to talent development. Modern world trends such as changing workforce demographics, globalization, cutting-edge technology, lean environment, and knowledge-based society have influenced the role of learning in organizations and promoted to change a view of corporate training to talent development. As a comprehensive and continuous process, talent development is strategically aligned with organizational goals and develops people in an organization to meet current and future organizational needs. Because the role of talent development professional is different from the role of trainers, talent development leaders are requested to have different competencies. This chapter presents specific competencies required for talent development leaders.

Skills forecasts in a rapidly changing world: Through a glass darkly

Through a glass darkly is a phrase that has inspired the titles of many works. It implies an obscure or imperfect vision of reality. This is very apposite in the context of individuals making career choices and educational investment decisions. Frequently criticized as unnecessary, misleading, and even impossible, skills forecasts are an attempt to add some light. Now a key element in economic and labor market policy in many parts of the developed world, they also provide a benchmark for debating whether the education and training system produces skills appropriate for the labor market. Globalization, technological change, and demographic developments are changing the world of work, as well as the provision of education and training, in dramatic ways. The ever-growing importance of services (in terms of shares of total employment), continuing impacts of ICT including robotics, and myriad other factors are changing the nature of work and employment. Nevertheless, many clear trends emerge that can help those having to make career choices or decide on priorities for investment in human capital make better informed decisions. Policy makers worldwide are keen to try to match skills supply with rapidly changing demand, but perfect matching is probably a chimera in all but the most tightly controlled and planned economies. This chapter argues that regular skills forecasts are essential in a modern labor market information and intelligence system to ensure economies and labor markets function efficiently. While both precise and detailed forecasting and matching of supply to demand are impossible tasks, it is important that all participants in the labor market are well informed about the world around them and about future prospects. Systematic, consistent analysis and projections, based on sound historical data, can provide such information. Skills forecasts can inform education and training providers, as well as individuals making career choices, about their best options. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. The chapter also sets out the problems and pitfalls associated with such work, alongside the case for its continuation on a regular and well-founded basis.

Greening of the economy through partnerships: Issues and impacts on skills development

The importance of transitioning towards a greener economy, which is part of the sustainable development agenda, has been recognized throughout the world. This chapter analyzed greening initiatives at the regional, government and industry levels to understand the current and desirable role of partnerships for pushing the greening of economies to a new level. Intergovernmental collaboration between ASEAN countries that deal with environmental issues and countries’ initiatives illustrate the ways challenges have been addressed individually and through coordinated efforts. At the industry level, greening measures are also adopted driven by CSR policies and targets to decrease cost of running operations. The chapter suggests conceptualisation of current and future actions for greening hotels in Hong Kong through a shareholders’ value framework enables a clarification of strategies required for improvement in a systematic manner as well as identifying ways in which partnerships between TVET and the hotel industry can contribute to innovations for greening. It is a useful tool that allows hotels to focus attention on current and future actions that can bring green development for a company. Although this set of actions has been formulated in the context of Hong Kong, they can provide useful guidelines for the hotel industry throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Foundations of competence-based vocational education and training

Several competence theories have been developed, and much competence research has been conducted during the last decades. Various competence solutions emerged at conceptual, strategic and operational level in the fields of corporate strategy, human resource management, education, training, and the development of personal effectiveness. Furthermore, the competence-based education philosophy has deeply entered the vocational education and training sector worldwide. Despite much criticism in certain countries, the competence-based vocational education and training (CBVET) philosophy has been attractive to many stakeholders in this field. This attractiveness can be easily explained, since CBVET addresses some perennial challenges in VET: the alignment with requirements of the labor market and entrepreneurship (including self-employment), the inclusion of applying knowledge and skills in practice, the hybridization of work and learning, the attention for the attitudinal dimension in professional identity, the focus on increased self-regulated learning, and the shift from final exams to portfolio development and formative and authentic assessment. Without the pretention of being exhaustive, this chapter, on the foundations of competence-based vocational education and training, gives a review of eight theoretical views on competence, which emphasize performance, self-determination, alignment, professional knowledge, shaping, effective instruction, capability, and human development. The chapter then reviews the current states of affairs regarding competence practices, characteristics of mature CBE systems, and discussions about definitions. The chapter is concluded with an outlook on competence for the future. Amongst all future-oriented competencies, learning competence remains most important. The development of all other competencies is depending on that.

Competences, capabilities and capitals: Conceptual paradigms in the educational-employment relationship

This chapter explores three influential approaches to the analysis of the relationship between education and employment, broadly framed in terms of individuals' lifetime employability. It offers an oversight of three dominant approaches which offer differing, yet also overlapping, accounts of employability. The concept of competences has been influential in explaining individuals' immediate labour market outcomes and has framed understandings of formal educational processes which potentially enhance learners' future employment outcomes. Competences are largely understood to be both supply-side driven and demand-orientated. Capabilities are understood to embody broader ability sets than those which merely reference occupational demands. Capitals can be derived from individuals' formal educational and socio-cultural experiences and impact on their subsequent educational and economic outcomes. The chapter concludes by considering how each approach maps onto the agency-structure dynamic which is central to any analysis of individuals' educational and subsequent employment experiences.

Transforming employer signaling in the talent marketplace

This chapter begins by describing how most employers traditionally communicate the qualities they seek, and how education and workforce systems take these into account. Next, it identifies three new types of employer signaling needed in today’s economy, and it examines promising examples of their use. Finally, the chapter makes a series of recommendations for how to improve on these promising practices, while also highlighting key challenges that will need to be overcome by both public- and private-sector stakeholders if improved employer signaling is to become a reality.