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21st Century Skills List to Learn

The 21st century is an ever-changing environment, modern living has become more reliant and determined by what skills you have and how well you are able to apply them.

For instance, students need life skills to deal with stress and frustration. They need to be flexible and to have mastered time management and other soft skills. Throughout this article we will be looking at the most useful life skills, how to acquire them, and the best ways to apply them at school or college, at work and in everyday life.

Learning these 21st century skills will make it easier for you to interact with people and more likely to be employed in a workplace than the next person.

Digital skills

Technology is developing at a very fast pace and it may take continuous learning to keep up with modern day demand in the field. Digital skills are needed in all areas of life like entertainment, medicine, communication and may be the most useful of job skills to learn.

1. Touch Typing

Touch typing is a muscle memory typing method obtained through rigorous training with the proper finger placement. Through the right methods of training and testing, the fingers get so used to typing in such a way that they instinctively go to the appropriate keys. The skill of touch typing plays a vital role in employability by enabling you to achieve a very high speed of data entry or completing other tasks faster when typing is required. Touch typing makes you more productive in any “computer-based” work. Practice is key. Get started by passing typing lessons and check your typing speed from time to time.

2. Mobile Typing

Mobile Typing Mobile typing is required when interacting through mobile devices. Mobile typing technology has developed so much that word and sentence predictions are available as well as drag-typing. The user merely moves his/her finger across the mobile’s keyboard and the word and spaces are automatically filled.

Improve your mobile typing with TapTyping.

3. Online Learning

There are many free tutorials online that are able to assist with an education for a number of areas. Courses are available online that provides the student with all necessary study materials and guides. Tips, assignments, old exam papers and tests may also be available to further aid the student.

Find out more at Coursera.

4. Searching Information Online

The student needs to have basic computing skills for digital communication and researching subjects online in a timely manner. Knowledge on inputting the correct form of wording in a search engine may result in the best results possible.

Find out more.

5. Basic Coding

Knowledge of the principles of basic coding facilitates communication and helps to develop structural thinking. This skill develops memory and the ability to understand the essence of the problem. It helps to focus on problems that need to be solved.

Try to code at Codecademy or

6. Create a Blog

Creating a blog will enhance writing skills and keeping a journal of important events and experiences. People reading your blog may learn from your experience as well as advise and share similar experiences. Their feedback can also make you think more open-mindedly about life in general.

Learn how to create your own blog at

7. Photoshop

Knowing your way around Photoshop is a must for anyone looking to become a graphic designer. Using Photoshop you can create your own logos, graphics and edit images on an advanced level. This skill may be used as a service for clients in advertising and marketing niches.

Learn more about Photoshop.

8. Spreadsheet and Word Processor

These are the two most used and basic tools of Microsoft Office. These applications assist the user to edit and create documents, process math equations in large amounts or create simple documents like cards and professional letters.

Improve your office skills at Microsoft website.

9. Creating a Presentation

Microsoft PowerPoint is essential when it comes to creating presentations for meetings and month-end reports. This program also possesses the features of basic image manipulation, for instance, removing a background from an image.

Improve your PowerPoint skills.

Interpersonal Skills

Interacting with other humans around us is an unavoidable part of life. There are no limits as to the number of skills you can acquire when it comes to interpersonal skills, also known as soft skills. This may just be the most important skill set of all to improve.

1. Speed Reading

Most people are able to read about 200-400 words per minute, speed readers claim to be able to read 1000-1700 words per minute. Speed reading is accomplished by shortening how long one fixates on a word. This may be achieved by cutting down on subvocalization.

Find out more about speed reading at Legentas.

2. Communication

Communication may be in any form of speaking, writing or listening and responding. These skills are among the most important when it comes to employability as this affects just about every aspect of a job. This may also be extended to body language, nonverbal communication and personal appearance which will be discussed in more detail later in the article.

Up your communication skills.

3. Public Speaking

Public speaking is a great way to improve yourself, work on your charisma and overcome inner fears. It develops the ability to properly convey your thoughts to the audience and motivate them to action. Having mastered this skill, you can speak easily and clearly with people and do work presentations.

Learn new tips on the subject at

4. Stress Management

For emotional and physical well-being the treatment of stress, especially chronic stress, is a must. Stress management techniques should be practiced until they become habits in your everyday life. Those techniques include reaching out to others and engaging socially, exercises and meditation.

Find out more here.

5. Project Management

Managing a project may be described as the application of processes through strategic and effective methods, broad-based knowledge on the subject; problem-solving, organizational skills and experience. Each project is a uniquely designed, mostly temporary endeavor and is ultimately responsible for achieving planned objectives which could be defined by the outputs, outcomes and benefits.

Learn a new skill at Alison.

6. Decision Making

Decision making is a choosing between two or more options or courses of action. After going through a process of decision making and problem solving, an informed option may be chosen. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of the options before deciding the course of action. This process is made through intuitive or logical processes or both.

Read more.

7. Questioning

This is done for the purpose of gaining more information. Asking questions involving mainly, where, when, what, why & who. Asking the right questions with the right timing is vital in receiving the desired response. Sometimes you may use suggestion to receive an answer, intention, reason or possible outcome may conceal the question.

Here are few questioning techniques.

8. Listening

Listening skills are important when it comes to communication. Appropriately listening and paying attention makes you more attentive, responsive, and empathetic towards others. Don’t interrupt or distract the speaker off his/her subject or direction of a conversation. There are three types of listening, namely:

  • Informational listening – This is exemplified by a student who needs to listen to learn.
  • Empathetic or Therapeutic listening – Listening to understand emotions and feelings.
  • Critical listening – Listening to analyze and evaluate a situation/matter.

Read more tips to improve listening skills at Forbes article.

Life Skills

1. Finance and Budgeting

Skills in this trait ensure the best affordable resources are utilised and allocated. It promotes thinking ahead and enables the individual to plan ahead more effectively as it serves as an early warning system. Objectives are more easily met and a framework may be established and planned for by coordinating all parties and departments involved and delegating the work accordingly.

Learn more at Coursera.

2. Positive Thinking

The right emotional and mental attitude promotes good health and makes overcoming obstacles easier. Success is easily achieved and sometimes requires some patience and self-discipline to achieve, as everyone does not understand the benefits of this way of living, thinking and acting. Positive thinking has a great impact on social circles and promotes confidence to those who surrounds the positive person.

Find positive thinking course.

3. Cooking

Cooking is one of the most therapeutic activities freely available. While many people consider it a chore and some others an art, it can be the most beneficial and healthy way to nourish the body and mind. There are infinite recipes to explore and improve your cooking skills. Achieving positive results in cooking boosts confidence, impress friends and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Experience more here.

4. Repair Stuff

Everyone in life needs something repaired at some stage. Appliances and motor vehicles are the main categories of items that may be too expensive to replace. Possessing skills to repair items may not only save you a lot of money, but applying the knowledge to neighborhood community may earn you money as well. Auctions and second-hand shops have lots of broken items that may be bought for cheap and resold at a higher price after repairing a small part.

Tons of valuable advices you can find at iFixit.

5. Self-defence

Obtaining self-defence skills may give you the ability to protect and defend yourself when an attacker attempts to harm you. It may be the decider between life and death if not handled correctly. Self-esteem is boosted especially in women who attend classes in self-defence. The exercise associated with self-defence classed promotes a healthy lifestyle and improves muscle toning and better sleep at night.

Here are a few simple self-defence techniques.

6. Play an Instrument

Similar to the cooking skills section, learning to play a new instrument stimulates the mind and spirit. It can be very rewarding and fun once you master the instrument. It activates a lot of parts in the human brain that are not used every day and improves memory and motor skills, according to studies.

Here’s more info on learning to play guitar and here is a list of courses for other instruments.

7. First Aid Skills

You never knows when this may come in handy and may save someone’s life! Some fields of work require some level of first aid to have been completed before you may apply for the position or be promoted to a better job position.

Even the most basic of first aid skills may aid in a difficult situation and may save your own life as well. First aid skills commonly consist of resuscitating a person with breathing difficulty, mainly to supply oxygen to the brain for brain function until further measures are taken to help the person in need. Poisonous bites from insects, snakes and spiders may be treated as well as open wounds and broken bones. These skills are essential in knowing how to react and assisting others who are not aware or used to stressful situations.

Read more about this.

8. Body language

This is a vital function in communication. Body language forms part of listening skills and unconsciously sends messages to those around you about your feelings and mood. It consists of movements and gestures and may be defined in finer detail if looked at micro-impressions. A skilled person trained in the field may even determine when someone is telling a lie or doubting another’s intentions. This requires a lot of attention to detail and analytical skills to master and implement.

Read more.

9. First Impression Skills

According to research studies done, it takes approximately 7 seconds to imprint or receive a first impression of another person. Although communicated subconsciously, small factors contribute towards first impressions, namely frowning, a smirk or smile, greeting professionally in the form of a handshake, etc. If the person messes up the first impression it takes three times long time to repair it. Nevertheless, the original first impression will never be replaced.

Improve your first impressions skills.

10. Taking Photos and Videos

Cherishing memories or sharing fun moments with friends and family is wholesome to the soul. It may restore a good mood, create a laugh, remind you of good times with friends and bring people closer together. Special events that commonly only happens once in most people’s lives and moments you can often never repeat are captured and framed in homes, creating a comforting atmosphere. Photos taken in the workplace may keep morale and confidence lifted and may be used to recognize positive traits in individuals.

Learn more on how to take better photos here and one more course from Harvard University.

11. Meditation

A lot of people claim to not have time for meditation while others simply don’t know anything on the subject so they don’t even attempt to try it. Meditation is a powerful form of using one’s brain and spiritual being to find and restore peace often disrupted by stress, worry and anxiety. As little as 12 minutes a day may have an impact to change your life by adjusting the way you think and help you to better handle the everyday stress life brings. It allows you focus more on thought, being aware and learning about your body and its needs.

Learn how to meditate using Meditationstudioapp.

12. Etiquette

Social etiquette or workplace etiquette, it all comes down to manners and how well-mannered one acts in a certain situation. The wrong attitude will almost always get you disliked by people in general and may get you fired from your workplace. Etiquette is formed by many different aspects, to name a few: respect for others, self-confidence, table manners, and even the simple “please” and “thank you”.

More at Forbes article.

Productivity Skills

Working on yourself and improving your abilities makes an individual more employable. To such an extent that you may find yourself in a leadership position.

1. Improve Your Memory

Good health and a healthy lifestyle are the most important aspect of improving the brain to memorize better. Proper nourishment and exercise ensure the brain is well nourished with Omega 3 fatty acids vitamins and minerals. Getting enough undisturbed sleep and playing brain games all contribute to improving memory and brain activities overall.

Improve your memory today using games at Memorado.

2. Multitasking

This term refers to an ability to perform more than one task at the same time. Multitasking ensures a high level of productivity according to some studies while other studies conclude multitasking divides one’s attention and delays the completion of the activity. Multitasking stimulates different areas of the brain at once and benefits the person in learning about time management, his/her ability limits and problem-solving skills.

Cope with multitasking using services like Proud.

3. Learn a Language

Unlike motor skills developed by learning to play a new instrument discussed earlier, by learning a new language your brain develops a variety of cognitive skills. It improves the brain’s function in performing in standardised exams, maths vocabulary and reading comprehension when compared in a study to monolingual students. This also aids in making an individual more employable as many jobs are available to translate languages.

Learn a new language using Duolingo website or app.

4. Motivation and Goal Setting

If you are always feeling unmotivated and not sure why or how to change this, you’ll need to self-evaluate your life and the people around you. If you are surrounded by negative people who always complain and only see the negative in life it might be time to move these people out of your life and seek better, more positive thinkers to surround yourself with. This might aid in reaching goals you have set for yourself. It is important to keep track of the goals and aspirations you wished to reach so they may actually be achieved.

Set your goals and track progress with Goalmap.

5. Prioritizing and Time Management

Planning your day and keeping to a schedule is vital in both productivity and time management. Time in motion exercises will help determine how long it takes to complete a task so future tasks may be better planned for. One must determine which activities are more important than others so one may act accordingly when something comes up that may not have been planned for. Prioritizing and time management are vital coping skills in life today and may be considered as a valuable employability skill.

Read more about tips on time management techniques.

Additional life skills

1. Basic Psychology

Everybody has some knowledge of psychology, when you are able to tell if someone is irate or happy or sad. Psychology may roughly be described as a range of techniques to the study of human behaviour, the human mind, thought interpretation, feelings and motives underlying a certain behaviour. Having basic psychology skills enables you to describe, predict, control and explain mental processes.

Learn more about basic psychology skills.

2. Basic marketing skills

To successfully market an item or movement, one needs to possess good interpersonal communication skills, good writing abilities, be creative and have some analytical skills, to say the least. You must know what kinds of people you are aiming to attract with the marketing activity. Marketing may be presented in many forms: advertisements on billboards on the side of the road, online windows embedded in a website, in magazines and so on. So, if you are looking to advertise, for example, you need to know where and in what types of magazines or locations to post an advertisement.

Get to the next level by browsing a curated list of marketing tools at Marketing Stack.

3. Swimming

Water covers 70.8% of the planet’s surface. That is the reason why we need to know how to swim. While traveling, you will definitely see the water and you should be able to swim, then you won’t be afraid of it. Moreover, swimming holds great benefits for the skin, body and weight loss. It’s stress relieving, builds endurance and strength, tones muscles and helps to maintain a healthy heart and lungs.

Learn more and watch videos at uSwim.

4. Sport or physical activity

Whether you are watching or participating in it, sport is therapeutic. Being active keeps a healthy mind and body as more oxygen reaches the brain and your body better absorbs nutrients and released endorphins that make you happy.

Try fitness app + tamagotchi called Tep.

5. Cycling

Cycling has more mental benefits and puts less strain on your joints than other sports. It has been proven that cycling can improve mental health, brainpower, relationships, health and happiness. Aiding mentally mostly in long term chronic mental issues like anxiety and depression. Cycling also helps the brain to respond to stress better and think more clearly.

Learn how to ride a bike at Thecce.

6. Sense of fashion

Having a good sense of fashion boosts confidence and enables you to always look your best to others. Dressing well has a lot of benefits when it comes to being interviewed for a work opportunity and may influence the employer subconsciously into having a good first impression of you.

Learn more about it.

7. Writing properly

Being a good writer is an important part of communicating. It allows a sense of intelligence and clarity in the message communicated to others. There are a number of ways to improve writing skills by practicing how to write good sentences, paying attention to punctuation and metaphors.

Read more about writing courses.

8. Logical manner of wording

Good grammar skills and applying the right structure to a writing project is essential. Proofread and edit content constantly and look for ways to improve on details like smooth transitions between sentences, becoming more conversational and paying attention to the written “sound” that appear in the reader’s minds.

Learn more about this.

9. Clean your house

A clean house is a happy house, it allows clearer thinking, and less clutter means more freedom of thought. Dust and negligence to clean may lead to health issues and might attract undesirable visitors like cockroaches and rodents.

Read more about the benefits.

10. Healthy eating habits

By eating healthy you promote good health, a healthy weight and become happier. Receiving a healthy dose of the right vitamins, food cooked correctly and less to no fat boosts energy and allows for the liver and kidneys to not be overworked.

Learn more about healthy cooking at PlateJoy.

11. Teaching

By teaching others a new skill or new knowledge allows your mind to be open to suggestions on expanding your own knowledge on the subject and to better understand and know it yourself. Everyone’s mind and way of thinking differ, and this may be beneficial to everyone involved in the activity on hand.

Read about teaching courses.

12. Volunteer spirit

Leading by example, volunteer work and being positive about it promotes amazing habits in others to want to make the world a better place. It may be satisfying in helping others who are not able to help themselves and may spark the desire in others to adopt ways to better assist those in need around us.

Read more on how to achieve this.

13. Budget travelling

By thorough research online one may be able to experience the world without spending a lot of money doing so. There are communities serving as a ‘backpackers’ lodging travellers around the world. This may be essential in self-development and discovering different cultures around the world.

Travel cheap with Rome2Rio.

14. Map reading

Being able to read a map ensures safety and ease when traveling or hiking. You will also be able to assist others better and have a better general knowledge of your surroundings. An individual may be able to find work as an archaeologist and guide as a hiking or adventure guide.

Learn how to read maps.

15. Storytelling

Storytelling may be used as a method of teaching or entertainment. No one likes an awkward silence in social circles and being able to entertain ensures you to be good company in any situation. Storytelling may be advanced by embellishment or improvisation.

Learn how to tell a good story from Forbes article.

16. Law Basics

Knowing the basics of the law will ensure you stay out of trouble in society and may protect you in your workplace against unfair acts against you. If you are looking to start your own business this may also help in running the business effectively when it comes to employing staff members.

Learn more about legal careers.

17. Tax Basics

Knowing your way around taxes may save you a lot of administrative costs in your personal life, workplace and business. Having this as a strong trait in life may be beneficial by making you more employable as most people are not aware of tax basics.

Learn more about tax basics.


We have covered all the possible skill areas in which you can improve upon to be successful in life and modern society. Mastering these techniques may open a lot of doors and present a lot of opportunities for any individual, young or old. It is never too late to improve upon your skills and it is never too late to learn a new skill.