21st Century Skills: What you need to know

More than ever, the job market is changing at an unprecedented speed. The future of jobs now revolves around both technical and soft skills(21st century skills) especially as more corporates embrace digital transformation. Nowadays, rapid advancements in the technological field are forcing the youth to procure new skills persistently. Individuals who master specific technological skills (e.g. building web apps, programming robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence…) and especially those who shine in their area of expertise, are often headhunted by the tech giants. Indeed, there is a constant race over talent and employers’ needs keep changing. 

Being a well-rounded talent with exposure and expertise does not just land individuals their dream jobs, but also allows them to become entrepreneurs: creating their own enterprises, following their dreams and being their own bosses. The differentiating traits and skills that give an edge and an additional chance of success for startup founders comprise leadership and teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking, and of course, self- and people-management. That is why it is essential for youth seeking a better tomorrow to learn and acquire 21st-century skills that include innovation, technology, team-work, and communication. 

adults from diverse backgrounds holding light-bulbs
With rising unemployment and changing employment needs, competition over the right talent is getting fiercer

The 21st century skills

According to the world economic forum, ten types of skills are imperative for youth to acquire in the current era to prosper in life and continuously stay up to date on the newest state-of-the-art advancements in the technological field. Skills such as:

  • analytical thinking and innovation
  • active learning and learning strategies
  • complex problem solving
  • critical thinking and analysis
  • originality and initiative
  • leadership and social influence
  • technology use
  • technology design and programming,
  • stress tolerance and flexibility
  • problem-solving and ideation

  These skills are known as 21st-century skills. 

a woman in an online meeting on her computer demonstrating the 21st century skills needed
Having 21st-century skills requires both hard and soft skills 

The 21st-century skills are segmented into four main categories which are:

  1. Problem-solving: Mastering the art of defining the problem, finding alternative solutions, and implementing them is at the top of the skills required by the jobs of the future. Problem-solvers are creative, analytical, and critical thinkers. Becoming a problem solver demands practice in addition to out-of-the box thinking and risk-taking in trying innovative and unconventional solutions.
  2. Self-management: The ability to organize one’s self, manage stress and emotions, in addition to exercising life-long learning is pivotal in a complex and rapidly changing working environment. All successful leaders are self-managers; they are mindful of their life and always strive to achieve maximized productivity in order to achieve their goals. To become a self-manager, sticking to a schedule is crucial. In addition, setting clear goals to accomplish will help the individual become an achiever. Continuous learning and development on the personal and professional level are also crucial as the world keeps advancing and the workplace keeps evolving. Finally, being flexible and resilient helps the individual to handle stress and to successfully combat challenges faced through their career.
  3. Working with people: The future of jobs demands team-playing which in turn needs adequate communication skills and emotional intelligence. Teamwork is one of the most significant skills to work on in the 21st century as all fields rely on diverse groups of people that are often distributed over different continents. Working with people requires an open-minded person that can accept different opinions and individuals with diverse backgrounds. Working with people needs strong communication skills to deliver the information in simple terms so that anyone can understand it, and as Albert Einstein once said  “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

    adults working together on a laptop demonstrating the 21st-century skils
    Working with a diverse and geographically dispersed team is one of the requirements of the future of jobs
  4. Technology use and development: The 21st century is characterized by the pervasiveness of smart systems in addition to the rapid growth of the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality among other game-changing advancements that are also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. Gaining technical skills is key to success. The job market continues to witness a phenomenal surge in the demand for individuals with technical and development skills. Technology has become a necessity for all businesses and companies and the demand over developers, data scientists, and systems engineers is more than ever before. This is why it is crucial for youth to ride the wave of technology and embrace these skills early on. As the American writer Stewart Brand once said:  “Once a new technology rolls over you if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”

21st century skills on Shabab Lab

Through Shabab Lab, a one-of-its-kind virtual innovation lab in the Arab world, we aim to equip the youth with the most in-demand 21st-century skills. All the programs on the platform emphasize problem-solving, critical thinking and innovation. The platform aims to prepare participating youth for the future of jobs by gaining hands-on and project-based experience in technology, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. 

Our programs work on connecting the youth with their communities and provide them with the methodologies and tools to select worthwhile social and environmental problems to solve. Moreover, through Shabab Lab, the youth will master the best pathways to create effective technology-based solutions for those problems based on best practices, and with the help of mentors and experts. 

As the 21st century requires more responsible global citizens, our vision is to transform the youth into social innovators and changemakers that will implement local solutions for the global goals.  Shabab Lab’s programs are uniquely designed to promote teamwork and collaboration amongst youth. In a few years time, we will be creating the next wave of social entrepreneurs and initiative-takers that will create technology solutions to help their communities and planet become a better place. 

By being part of the Shabab Lab programs, you are one step closer to mastering 21st-century skills and being ready for what the future holds in store, alas “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”― H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

woman writing on sticky notes
Shabab Lab provides youth with the right mindset and equips them with the right skill-set for the 21-st century work needs



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