top of page


21st Century Skills are broad, overarching skill sets such as communication, critical thinking, and teamwork. These are the most highly valued skills across all labor markets. 


Difference Between Character Strengths and 21st Century Skills


While character strengths are authentic parts of who you are, 21st century skills are the specific abilities that you want to get better at. In other words, character strengths represent how you go about your life, while 21st century skills represent the competencies and abilities that you’re motivated to master.

Key Terms

Key Terms

Mastery: Mastery is the desire to improve certain skills in order to achieve goals. 

Ask Yourself

Ask Yourself...

  • Which skills have you begun to master? Where have you practiced these skills?

  • Which skills do you most enjoy? Why?

  • Are there any skills that stick out to you? Why do you think you’re interested in these skills as opposed to others?

  • What are some of your intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in achieving these skills?




Initiative and Self Direction: 

The ability to independently create and follow through on a goal one is motivated to achieve.


Media Literacy

The ability to effectively use social media and emerging technology to take in information that will be useful in school and work.



The ability to meaningfully connect with a diverse population of individuals and groups in a variety of different settings.

Why does this matter?

Why does this matter?

  • In one study in which 400 employers in a range of different fields were asked which skills they considered the most important, the top five included oral communication, critical thinking or problem solving, teamwork, written communication, and professionalism (Casner-Lotto & Barrington 2006). 

  • The two key characteristics valued by 1,5000 CEOs included creativity and management of complexity, according to an IBM study (Tomasco 2018).

  • When employers were asked which skills they looked for in hiring recent college grads, the ability to work in a team and the ability to make decisions and solve problems topped the list (Adams 2013).



Adams, S. (2013, October 11,). The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 20-Something Employees. Forbes,


     Casner-Lotto, J., & Barrington, L. (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce. ().


      Duffy, R. D., & Sedlacek, W. E. (2007). The presence of and search for a calling: Connections to career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 70(3), 590–601. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2007.03.007 


      Liang, B., White, A., Mousseau, A., Hasse, A., Knight, L., Berado, D., & Lund, T. (2016). The four P’s of purpose among College Bound students: People, propensity, passion, and pro-social benefits. Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(3), 281-294. (

      Tomasco, S. (2018). IBM 2010 Global CEO Study: creativity selected as most crucial factor for future success. IBM. http://www-03. ibm. com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670. wss# contact (accessed 05/28, 2013).

bottom of page