In the past decade or so, several terms like “21st-century skills,” “soft skills,” “metaskills,” and “transversal competences” have emerged, often used interchangeably. However, beneath these buzzwords lies a profound truth – the significance of “skills that go beyond knowledge” (as I like to call them) in shaping successful lives. The education domain must shift its focus towards nurturing these essential abilities in students. This is highlighted in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs survey published earlier this year that really puts attitudes, values and abilities over knowledge.

The Buzzword Conundrum

While the terminology may vary, the underlying theme remains consistent: equipping students with the competencies necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Rather than getting entangled in the intricacies of labeling these skills, we must recognise their collective essence – the ability to navigate life with acumen and emotional intelligence. These skills enable students to adapt, collaborate, innovate, and think critically, making them invaluable assets in both personal and professional spheres.

Insights from the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Survey

The WEF Future of Jobs survey for 2023 provides crucial insights into the shifting demands of the world of work. As automation and technology reshape industries, the emphasis is increasingly on uniquely human attributes. The survey reveals that employers highly value skills like analytical and creative thinking, empathy, resilience and self-awareness, to mention a few. In essence, these skills align remarkably with the aforementioned “skills that go beyond knowledge.

WEF Education Taxonomy 4.0: A Holistic Approach

The WEF Education Taxonomy 4.0 categorises learning areas into “Abilities and Skills,” “Attitudes and Values,” and “Knowledge and Information.” This taxonomy underscores the significance of holistic education that fosters personal growth alongside academic excellence. Out of the 21 domains, only “domain-specific skills” relates to disciplinary knowledge while Abilities & Skills and Attitudes & Values cover 20 learning domains.

A Human-Centric Future

The increasing value placed on who we are as human beings and how we behave over mere knowledge is indicative of a human-centric future. In a world where technology continues to augment our capabilities, the qualities that set us apart as individuals become paramount. Our ability to empathise, collaborate, and communicate effectively will be the differentiating factor in the work life.

Amidst the buzzwords and jargon, it is crucial for educators, policymakers, and stakeholders in the education domain to recognise the profound significance of these skills, however they are called. The convergence of “21st-century skills,” “soft skills,” “metaskills,” and “transversal competences” underscores the need for a comprehensive and human-centric approach to education. As we march towards the future, nurturing these essential abilities in students will empower them to build and live successful lives in an ever-changing world. The journey begins with acknowledging that a truly human future lies in cultivating the skills that define us as individuals and enable us to shape a better world. And that is one of the amazing things that keeps the SkillSafari team motivated, that feels like an amazing world to live in.


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