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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.