What Are The Most Critical Skills For Success At Work In 21st Century?

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If you have ever wondered what skills are most significant for achievement, this article is for you.

We live in a world of accelerating change. New industries are still being born and old ones have gotten out of date. Many of the jobs that elementary school students will do in the future don’t yet exist.

Our workforce, human resources and knowledge base are all growing rapidly. Combined with the effect of progressive technological automation on employees, this leaves a key question to be answered: what skills are needed for the next generation?

In today’s world there are two major trends that are both challenging and offering many opportunities for the education system.

First, the world is more and more moving from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based economy. Second, the younger generation who grew up on the Internet have different expectations and motivations for learning.

These two forces push us to rethink and alter our educational methods and systems. The gap between what they teach and test even our best schools and the skills students need to function effectively and efficiently in the 21st century world is stark.

The internet generation has different needs

In today’s digital era, the ‘internet generation’ is more used to meeting needs instantly. It actively uses the network to make friends and establish contacts, find answers, find the information and data they need, develop through its network of interests, learn and express themselves.

Broad and comprehensive access to the Internet and new technologies is having a decisive influence on the way the current generation thinks and acts.

The Internet is their natural environment. However, the school system is still firmly rooted in the educational paradigms and methods of the 19th and 20th centuries.

It does not slot in with the world of the 21st century, where the younger generation is functioning. In school we are still taught how to remember more often than think, and in the 21st century easy memory will not get us very far.

In this article I identify seven skills needed to face the future. These are skills and attitudes that young people absolutely need to reach their full potential.

Today’s students need to master seven skills in order to thrive in the new world of work. They must be productive citizens who contribute to solving some of the most crucial problems facing us in the 21st century.

What Skills Are Most Important For Success

1. Problem solving and important thinking

We spend quite a lot of time learning how to answer questions we frequently do not learn to ask. The essence of critical thinking is the ability to ask the right questions. Before you can solve a problem, you must have the ability to critically analyze it and ask good questions to answer what caused it. Therefore, critical thinking and problem solving are interrelated.

Today’s workforce is organized in a entirely different way than it was only a few years ago. We see a number of interdisciplinary teams working on specific and highly complex issues, as opposed to individual and iterative work based on known procedures and standards.

Your manager does not have and does not know all the answers and solutions. You as an employee must think and find it. Employers are trying to find employees who can solve problems and think for themselves, not people who need to be told step by step what to do.

Competitive pressures and rapidly changing market conditions make it a challenge to constantly seek innovation – to do what hasn’t been done before.

This forces us to rethink our current solutions, to innovate, invent and propose something entirely new that will add value.

Currently, companies are trying to find people who will take on new challenges. They need employees to be experts thinking about how to continuously improve products, processes and services.

Innovation requires creative genius – critical thinking and problem solving. This set of skills lays the foundation for progress and development. We must have the ability to question and challenge the present situation before we can innovate and propose better alternatives and solutions.

Critical thinking requires an active mind and skills:

  • Choice and decision making
  • Seeing the relationship between things
  • Identify questions
  • Clarifying and clarifying something that’s not clear
  • Analysis of data and knowledge
  • Synthesis, combining many various elements into a single entity or moving from details to generalizations
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Thinking
  • Conclusion (induction) – reasoning from detail to generality

Troubleshooting includes:

Identify problems, find solutions, answer questions and ask questions.
Investigation, research, brainstorming, evaluation and explanation.
Draw conclusions, make decisions and solve problems.

2. Cooperation in numerous groups and leadership through influence

One of the main trends in the labor market is the increase in the number of temporary employees and so-called “freelancers” who carry out certain orders and projects.

Many people give up their jobs and choose to decide when, where and for whom they work. Companies are also more and more willing to use this sort of employee.

They hire them for a certain period of time to carry out certain projects. Thanks to this, they can use numerous competencies and optimize and reduce labor costs.

Technology has made work and collaboration possible across geographic boundaries. Multinational companies and organizations work together in offices all over the world.

But working with technology, often remotely, with people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds is something our youth need to be prepared for. We must not only learn to use digital devices for communication, but we must also promote tolerance (1), promote intercultural understanding, variety and mutual respect.

Group work is extremely important. Students need opportunities to work together, reason, give one another feedback.

In this context, team leadership is no longer about top-down authority, but rather about influencing, convincing, seeking consensus and influencing. Schools do not teach how to be a leader, even although this competency is probably the most desired by employers.

Cooperation includes:

  • Role delegation, teamwork
  • Synthesize different, often differing viewpoints, seek compromise and reach group consensus.
  • Teach others, negotiate, listen, communicate and build cooperative and collaborative communities (work groups).

Leadership includes:

  • Lead, teach, guide others.
  • Use problem-solving skills to positively influence others.
  • Facilitating, setting goals (short and long term).
  • Work together to accomplish goals.
  • Creating a friendly and respectful environment.
  • Act ethically.

3. Agility and skill to adapt to new conditions

We live in a world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). That is why it is crucial to have the ability to adapt and, if necessary, to have the ability to redefine one’s strategy and way of acting.

Traditionally, our approach to education and work has been designed around carrying out routine and regular procedures. We find out how to do something once and then we do it again and again. Learning means getting used to, getting used to, and doing the same thing more agile every time.

In the post-industrial era, the impact of technology means that we must be agile and adaptable to dynamic situations, numerous changes and the generally unpredictable effects of various disturbances.

It is very likely that the work many people do now will change or may not exist at all in the future, for example because of automation or AI-based solutions.

We must let people find their own way, take risks and find alternative paths. It is not only the end result that’s important, but also the process of attaining the goal.

Today, in order to succeed, get a job and get the right career, we need to: find out how to learn; learn to forget what we have learned; and learn to learn again.

Think flexibly, adapt to new conditions, and use numerous tools to solve problems.

Agility and flexibility require:

  • Think out of the box
  • Be flexible
  • Open and prepared to accept and make changes.

4. Initiative and entrepreneurship

Are we teaching our youth leadership? Do we encourage them to take the initiative? Are we empowering them to solve global problems?

Even in a corporate environment, business leaders strive to find employees who are consistently “looking for new opportunities, ideas and strategies to improve and improve.

Initiative brings with it commitment and purposeful action. Entrepreneur is a person who organizes, acts and takes risks in implementing certain business ventures. This also applies to students.

Initiative and entrepreneurship require from people:

  • Set precise goals that are ambitious and demanding
  • Be flexible and willing to take risks.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to develop their own skills, broaden their knowledge and abilities.
  • Work towards expertise, become proficient at what you do and be productive.
  • Seek and get help when needed.

5. Effective communication

While communicating through technology is simpler than in the past, entrepreneurs say many young people have difficulty communicating.

They lack proper verbal skills, writing and presentation skills. They have difficulty with clarity and conciseness of speech. They lack the ability to concentrate and focus. Ability to communicate their thoughts, conclusions and points of view in an effective and understandable way.

Effective communication is not just a matter of using proper language and grammar. In many ways, the ability to communicate clearly is an extension of clear thinking.

Can you present your arguments convincingly? Can you inspire others with passion and commitment? Can you briefly capture the most important elements of what you have to say? Do you know how to promote yourself, product or service?

Entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson once said, “Communication is the most important skill every leader should have.” Effective communication opens the door to many opportunities. It’s a learning ability, but schools often do not.

In the recruitment process, in addition to education and experience, the ability to “formulate one’s own thoughts” is among the important criteria in determining employment.

Effective and effective communication includes:

  • Concreteness and clarity of expression in all forms of communication.
  • Ability to define communication goals. What do you want to convey to the recipient of the message?
  • Good thinking about what you try to communicate and are preparing for.
  • Ability to express oneself – “speaking in one’s own voice”.
  • Convince when appropriate and necessary.
  • Ability to use appropriate and understandable vocabulary – without slang, unintelligible industry-specific abbreviations
  • Ability to articulate ideas and think.
  • Ability to communicate one on one, but not only “on-line” with the help of e-mail, SMS
  • Presentation, translation and publication of content
  • Create messages and messages
  • Effective use of media and accessible forms of communication

6. Evaluation and analysis of information

We live in the information age. There is so much information available in the 21st century that the amount of data alone can be overwhelming. Therefore, it is extremely important for people to understand how to access and analyze information that’s specific to their needs.

While our access to information has increased dramatically (2), there’s also quite a lot of distortion, noise and disinformation. As we move through the digital world, very few are taught how to value the source, reliability, and value of the information they access.

In an age of many false messages, active and informed citizens must have the ability to judge the veracity of information that will come from multiple sources.

Plus, information is continually evolving and changing as we update our knowledge base faster than ever. Facts that are relevant today may become entirely outdated and irrelevant tomorrow. It is important to at all times be up to date and have the ability to vote on it.

The ability to assess and analyze information includes:

  • Effective and efficient access to information
  • Critical evaluation of information
  • Effective use of information
  • Understand legal and ethical issues. Such as processing of personal data, respect for copyright, etc.

7. Curiosity about the world and imagination

Curiosity is a strong driver for new knowledge and innovation. The ability to cultivate “a child’s curiosity about the world” and a love for all things can drive innovation and the creation of new and better solutions.

It takes a powerful imagination to create breakthroughs in the mind and then implement them. That’s why Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Intelligence alone is not enough. People who have learned to ask good questions can even be curious. It is they who advance the fastest, because they’re able to solve the most difficult problems in such a way that’s at all times important for many people and creates innovations.

We consistently provide students with dry facts and knowledge rather than pushing them to ask questions and seek answers. Curiosity and unconventional thinking should be treated with the same importance that the school system gives to sciences such as mathematics or physics.

Curiosity is the desire to explore, discover and learn.

Imagination is the ability to face reality creatively.

  • Non-standard thinking, outside the schemes, generating ideas, proposing numerous possibilities, variations and options.
  • Finding new ways, paths, methods, objects
  • Be original, develop and communicate new ideas.
  • Design, build, build, build, create, improve.
  • Take reasonable risks.
  • Unconventional and independent thinking can contribute to success.


There is a clear contrast between the seven future survival skills and current educational goals. Instead of teaching people to answer questions, we must teach them to ask questions. Instead of preparing them to learn, we must prepare them to live.

In addition to educating and creating better workers, we must strive to create better leaders and innovators. This won’t only drastically change the future of education and the labor market, it will change the world in which we live.

It is worth considering these trends in order to better prepare for the coming future and the changes that await us in the labor market in the coming years. It’s worth looking at our competence today and seeing if that’s going to be included in the price in five or ten years’ time. Develop, learn and improve.

Thank you for reading this article about what skills are most significant for achievement and I actually hope you take my advice into action.

I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.