What are the 21st Century Skills? Skills that we need in this era!

The 21st century has impacts on various aspects of human life, especially in the fields of science and technology, economics, environment, and education (Tirtarahardja, 2010). The impacts given can be in the form of opportunities or challenges.

For example, in the field of economics. The ease of financial transactions is a positive value for the 21st Century, both for shopping, saving, and even managing financial data. However, on the other hand, challenges come in the form of excessive consumptive behavior and issues related to cyber security. 

Another example is in the field of science and technology. The ease of obtaining information is an important point in the 21st Century, which is also known as the Knowledge Age. We easily access information anywhere and anytime. However, the spread of hoaxes and gadget addiction is an undeniable issue.

Therefore, we need skills that can help us optimize opportunities and face challenges in the 21st Century. These are known as 21st Century Skills.

So what is included in the 21st Century Skills? Trilling & Fadel (2009) stated that 21st Century Skills consist of Learning and Innovation Skills, Information, Media, and Technology Skills, and Life and Career Skills.

21st Century Skills

Learning Skills and Innovation Skills

The first skill group is learning and innovation skills which cover expert thinking skills, complex communication skills, and applied imagination and invention.

Expert thinking skills are related to critical thinking and problem-solving. Complex communication skills include communication and collaboration. Meanwhile, the skills of applying imagination and invention include creativity and innovation. 

These learning and innovation skills are skills that are often associated with 21st Century Learning, namely 4C or Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. 

Information, Media, and Technology Skills

The second skill group is information, media, and technology skills. Information, media, and technology skills include information literacy, media literacy, and ICT literacy.

Information literacy is the ability to access information efficiently and effectively, evaluate information critically and competently, and use information accurately and creatively.

That is, we are not only expected to be able to obtain information. However, being able to analyze the information we get and use that information appropriately. 

Next is media literacy. If information literacy relates to expertise in managing information, media literacy is expertise in determining the media used to obtain information.

This is related to understanding how to best use the available learning media resources, as well as use media to create an effective communication product, for example making videos, audio for podcasts, and websites.

In addition to information literacy and media literacy, there is also ICT literacy. ICT literacy is the ability to use ICT tools effectively in enhancing learning for oneself and also communicating products made from media literacy skills to impart knowledge to others.

Life and Career Skills

The third group of skills, namely life, and career skills, which also known as Non-Technical Skills.

The challenges that are present in the 21st Century are not only technical in nature, such as challenges in using the latest technology and mastery of international languages but also how we respond to these challenges. Non-Technical Skills are also needed by 21st Century society.

For example, the rapid development of technology makes adaptability skills very important. We are expected to be able to adapt to the use of the latest technology, such as smartphones, laptops, and various applications or online communication platforms available.

Life and career skills include flexibility and adaptability, initiative and independence, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility. 


  • Tirtarahardja, Umar, S. L. La Sulo. (2010). Pengantar Pendidikan. Rineka Cipta: Jakarta.
  • Trilling, B. & Fadel, C.. (2009). 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.
Revised on 17 July 2022

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