Have you got the skills you need for the 21st-century workplace? Read about what employers are looking for and test yourself to see if you are prepared!


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Skills for the 21st-century workplace

Have you got the skills you need for the 21st-century workplace?

We need to develop all kinds of skills to survive in the 21st century. Some, like ICT skills and knowledge of the digital world, are taught explicitly in schools in the UK. Here are five less obvious ones for you to think about. These are the sorts of skills that employers may ask you questions about in interviews, so it’s a good idea to think about how good you are in these areas. What are your strengths and weaknesses?


In the age of technology that we are living in now, it is no longer enough to keep on making the same products. Employers need people who can imagine new approaches and new ideas.

Think: Think of an object or gadget you use every day. How could it be improved? Can you think of three improvements?

Problem solving

Employers will value workers who are able to see problems before they happen and come up with creative solutions.

Think: Imagine you are organising an end-of-term social event at school. Think of some problems that you could face. Can you think of any solutions?

Communication skills

Workers will have to be good communicators. They will have to be able to negotiate and discuss key issues and also write in a clear way without using too many words.

Think: How do people communicate with each other in the 21st century?

Critical analysis

Employers want workers who are able to recognise the difference between information that can be believed and false information.

Think: Use the internet to find out three facts about a celebrity or famous figure. Can you verify the information by checking other websites?

Decision making

Individual workers have a growing amount of responsibility. It is important to be able to evaluate a situation and be confident in making a decision.

Think: Which three things could you do to (a) be healthier (b) do better at school and (c) help others? Make a decision now to do at least one of these things. Then … just do it!

Total votes: 258
Language level: 


Which of the skills mentioned in the article do you think is the most important? Why?


parsasoroori's picture
parsasoroori 6 January, 2019 - 21:20

I think the most important ability in 21 st-century is team working and put every one in the right position. In my opinion there are no weak or talented people; all people are like gears that the employer should drop them in the right position so they could present the best job.

1 user has voted.
naturegirl's picture
naturegirl 19 October, 2018 - 19:19

I think the most important skills in workplace in the 21st century are imagination and communication skills. I think so because in the world there are many different inventions so you need imagination to invent something new. Communication is important too because modern work is team work so you must be able to convey information to other people, usually by a digital tool.
In the article you write that imagination is important. So how to learn it? Can school teach skills like that?

0 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 14 June, 2018 - 04:03

Hi Samduykhanh. That means you are good at choosing and deciding things and taking action. When you choose something, you feel confident that your choice is the right choice. You don't feel unsure or indecisive. You never feel like 'I don't know what to do'. 

Does that help to understand it?

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

1 user has voted.
Papili's picture
Papili 8 September, 2017 - 09:34

I think that a good problem solver can help others by giving them solutions for their problems because s/he can think about everything logically and make the best choice even in the worst situations.

21 users have voted.
hellokity's picture
hellokity 1 September, 2017 - 09:41

in my opinion. imagination is the most important. Because when you have ideal to improve this problem. you can solve this problem you meet. and you can chose what the best slove.

24 users have voted.
zilale's picture
zilale 12 July, 2017 - 16:39

Problem solving. Bcoz problems are everywhere,Isn't it? We need to see problems before and solve them by nice way . I know not every problems have be solved but we have to try our best and avoild problems. ( If I make mistakes pls tell me, thank you )

31 users have voted.
fay4's picture
fay4 7 June, 2017 - 11:33

In my point of view, Critical analyse is the most important because nowadays there's a lot of wrong information spread as it was true ... so we need the worker to be aware of these kinds and able to search for the truth ... otherwise if he can search he'll be able to solve problems and imagine as well .
(( I write he but I mean both he and she )) ;)

44 users have voted.
SLMT's picture
SLMT 21 May, 2017 - 14:36

Problem solving ,decesion making and communication is the difficult things to do . I think.In the first year of of work , I didn't know how to solve the problem. I became panic and I didn't know what to do. The next trouble for me was communication . I found it's too difficult bcoz I was a quiet person before I start to walk. After many years, I learned alot from my work and I can solve problems clamly and communicate with others without mistakes and fear.

52 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 22 May, 2017 - 11:11

Hi SMLT! Thanks for all your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. This website is specially for teenagers aged 13-17 years old but it sounds like you are older than that. You are welcome to keep on using LearnEnglish Teens but if you are over 17, please do not post any more comments as we must keep this strictly for teenagers to interact with each other. You are welcome to join our LearnEnglish page for adults and post comments there: www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish
Thanks and best wishes, Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

49 users have voted.
Abookworm's picture
Abookworm 12 May, 2017 - 18:51

Problem solving, because there are many things that you must take into account. I think it's really important to be able to think logically and make the best decision.

48 users have voted.
dewi's picture
dewi 14 April, 2017 - 01:46

Imagination because imagination can give a solution of problem solving with extensive knowledge. And with imagination, we can invent something that does not exist.

64 users have voted.