Essential 21st Century Skills For Teenagers

21st Century Skills And It’s Importance 

Most of the schools and universities around the world focus on skill-building and research-based learning. However, in India, we have yet to make changes in the way we educate our children.

A couple of days back the Delhi University announced the cut off for admissions at 100 %. So, what about the students who have secured 99 %, and what about those who scored 80%. It has become nearly impossible for these students to secure admission in their dream college. When I read across the social media about the hue and cry around DU declaring 100 % as cut off the first question that came to my mind was how are education boards awarding 100 marks to students and that too in languages. I am really keen to read the answer sheets of these students and learn a bit from them. There is seriously something wrong with the paper scheme and the marking parameters.

Thus, we need to revamp our education system and I am glad that the NEP is the right step towards it. Though I am still sceptical about its effective implementation it is certainly a much -needed change which was required to prepare our children for the 21st century.

Education In The 21st Century

This policy is the first step to focus more on equipping our children with the 21st-century skills rather than the marks that the students will secure. The NEP will also curtail the education boards from awarding 100 marks to students and that in turn will bring down the cut off’s in Universities.  Though it’s a matter of pride to secure academically well in India, and rightly so, the real-life is beyond marks.

We are entering an age where originality and innovation are essential for survival. Thus, as parents of teenagers, we need to also provide them with the freedom to develop these skills and not only obsess over exams and marks.

Education alone is not going to help them succeed because we need to prepare them right now for the careers which are currently nonexistent. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us to be future-ready by being adaptable to the changes.

Essential 21st Century Skills

Here I shall mention the skills that I feel will be more useful to the children to secure admission in renowned universities across the world and also make them more employable in the future.

Communication skills

It is important that your teen knows how to hold on to a conversation. Listening and questioning skills are thus very significant. They should be able to converse with strangers, discuss current topics regarding their hobbies, interests and career choices by the age of fourteen. And thus, as parents we need to start providing them with this opportunity from the time, they turn 11. We can start by asking them to discuss books, write book reviews even start a blog.

Leadership qualities

Today’s teenagers are our future leaders. We need effective leaders in our community, country and world. So, we cannot deny the significance of this very important quality that every teenager needs to equip themselves with. Some children are introverts but that doesn’t mean they can’t be confident leaders if schools and parents provide them with the right environment.

One very effective way is to enrol your 12-year-old for Model United Nation program at school. Most of the schools in metro cities and even Tier 2 and 3 cities have this particular program or similar programs at their schools.

If not, then parents can start their own leadership group. Parents can get together to teach the skills in a group by giving them mock situations based on real situations that they experience at their workplace.

Networking & Interpersonal skills

Though we need not teach a teenager how to stay in touch because they are very active in social media nowadays. However, though they have the exposure they have to be guided to use their networking skills more effectively. It is important that they know that building good relationships is an art as well as the most effective skill to make them successful in any career of their choice. They need to learn how to have good relationships with their co-workers to grow within the organization. And that should start while they are in school by participating in group activities. Also joining a team sport will help build important networking skills. Such activities will provide them with the opportunity to travel to different cities for tournaments and competitions, thus meeting different people.

IT skills

This is a no brainer that there are going to be numerous changes in the technology advancement and today’s teenagers need to be well versed with the IT skills irrespective of their choice of course and career.

Inter-Cultural Communication Skills

The world is becoming a smaller place. Teenagers need to acquire skills to communicate or share information with people from other cultures and social groups. Though nowadays teenagers aim to learn a foreign language. Language skills are just one aspect of the same and not the only requirement.

Intercultural communication requires an understanding of different cultures, their customs, standards and their thought patterns. For those who wish to work for multinational companies need to have effective intercultural communication skill to avoid misunderstanding. Good intercultural communication skills require a willingness to accept differences and find solutions which are beneficial to all.

Being part of student exchange programs is an effective way to master this very important 21st-century skill.

Analytical skills

To make any decision, the ability to ask yourself the right questions, seek relevant information, recognize similarities and differences is a very critical aspect. Analyzing the data available and then forming a judgement is very important to find the right solutions. These are all analytical skills which a teenager/young adult will have to develop through joining summer internship programs. These will make them more employable in the future.

Teamwork skills

We can’t emphasize enough about the importance of teamwork skills to be successful in life. I believe being part of any sports activity is a great way to build teamwork skills in a child from a young age. During high school years, a teenager can also take up community service activities or summer internship programs to enhance their teamwork skills. One of the most critical skills to be employable is being a team worker.

Creativity and innovation

It is not possible that always one will find all the information that one needs. That’s when being creative, imaginative and the ability to innovate comes in. Engaging in activities which makes the teenager imagine and predict the outcome will enhance their creativity.


To solve any problem, one needs to be confident and not fear the outcome. Teenagers go through many conflicting thoughts and emotions which could make it challenging for them to handle pressure and everyday problems. But if they learn to pay attention to details and innovate, they can empower themselves to make the right decisions in this ever-changing and very dynamic world.

Parents can start assigning them tasks as simple as visiting the bank or taking their opinion for the household budget and by the time they are 16 even discussing financial investments. In this way, they learn about the importance of making the right financial decisions as well as develop problem-solving skills.

Multi-tasking skills

I have heard so many parents complain about their teenagers not being organised. Teens who can effectively manage their time and organize their daily schedules can certainly achieve their goals easily. Once the teenager can devise a system that makes him more organised, he can multi-task and that makes him prepare for the future.


When I was a teenager, I used to go on many trekking trips organized by my school. I learnt to prepare my own food, sleeping on the floor in an extreme climate, adjusting in a small tent with girls who were not my friends. Our teachers would put us in groups with students who were not our friends. This taught me to live without comfort and luxuries and adapt to difficult situations. Also, we would be asked to read maps, prepare routes through the forest.

As I mentioned earlier, one thing that this pandemic taught us the hard way is to adapt. We also observed that children adapted better than adults. This proves that you can adapt better to unpredictable situations when you are young. If a teenager can focus on enhancing this skill, nothing can stop him from being successful and achieve his dreams.

To Conclude

It’s my observation that when the child is very young the parent enrols him in various activities. The child has a tight schedule running from one activity to another. This is the age when a child should have some time for free play. That builds their creativity. But just as the child becomes a teenager and joins high school entire focus is only on academics. This is where we are going wrong. This is the age when they have to develop essential 21st-century skills.

21st century skills

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Let your teenager engage in community service, student exchange programs, participate in school elections, participate in cultural activities, participate in sports tournaments. As a teacher and a career counsellor, I know universities are now thinking beyond marks. Building a good profile is very important in the high school years. Earlier we prepared a resume after finishing our education, now our children need to prepare their resume for securing admission in universities. So, times are changing and changing very fast.

According to one statistic by 2022, 37 per cent of our Indian students will be in new job roles and 9 per cent will be in job roles which are non -existent today and thus acquiring these 21st-century skills is now inevitable.

This post is a part of My Friend Alexa Season 5 with Blogchatter

Other posts in the Parenting the Teens Series

10 Mistakes Parents Of Teen Can Avoid- Part 1

10 Mistakes Parents Of Teens Can Avoid – Part 2

5 Tips To Enjoy Parenting Teens


15 thoughts on “Essential 21st Century Skills For Teenagers”

  1. Pingback: Why Career Counselling? A Career Talk - Aesha's Musings

  2. Wonderful post, Aesha! High time that we lay emphasis on things that matter in real life like social, emotional and networking skills rather than simply marks on paper. Teenagers, with the right guidance, have loads of opportunities to explore.

  3. I have just shared the series with my wife too, We are worried actually and plan to read them together to see on how we can support our son, from examinations that his school mandates during these tough times and the online education to online participation in classes, it is already too tough for kids and I hope things materialize soon so they dont go through a lot of stress..

  4. Loved this post a lot, you have listed really good and essential skills for teenagers. These soft skills are important as life skills be it communication, analytical, teamwork, IT, multitasking, problem solving, they all help in shaping your personality as a whole.
    #PraGunReads #MyFriendAlexa #blogchatter

  5. I completely agree with all these soft skills you have mentioned but above all we really need to work on their attitude towards their life, studies, career and relationships .

  6. This is such a well written idea. I’ve seen variations of the model united nations teaching concept in movies but never really thought we had it here… I feel it would be a great eye opener to growing children.

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