4 Essential Skills for 21st Century Success

As the landscape of society and the demands of the new high-tech workforce continue to change, more and more hard skills are being taught as part of elementary and secondary education.

From programming and technical writing, to robotics and the foundations of computational logic, these hard skills – or skills whose learning can easily be measured and quantified – are being taught early in an effort to prepare children for the future.

However, numerous studies have shown that soft skills, which include socialization, diplomacy, communication skills, and emotional intelligence, are going to become more important than ever in this high-tech future.

Major players in the industry have weighed in on soft skills for the future. In 2017, Google noted that its top-performing teams were driven by soft skills such as good communication, empathy, and high-quality collaboration. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs report projects that the skills demand for hard, tech-related skills will decline in 2022, in favor of soft skills such as attention to detail, creativity, innovative thinking, and problem-solving.

Soft skills can’t be measurably taught, and must be woven into the very fabric of a school’s curriculum to be instilled effectively in students’ hearts and minds.

What are some of these important soft skills?

Critical thinking

Critical thinking involves analyzing situations and problems from an objective standpoint, taking into account all variables and perspectives rather than making assumptions based on existing bias.

We’ve many times extolled the virtues of critical thinking in modern society, and this is definitely something that must be taught in schools. This can be done through a curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate, which espouses analytical thinking over rote memorization.


We’re not just talking about visual arts and writing – though these are as important as ever. With creative thinking, students will be able to provide innovative solutions to well-worn problems. Just as well, they’ll be able to create innovative products and services that will address new needs to come.

SISD has long made strides in introducing creative instruction to our students. We’ve developed music programmes, art exhibits, and community projects to develop creativity alongside technical skills.

Problem Solving & Collaboration

You can’t teach problem solving skills directly in class, and it’s not just limited to science or mathematics. Problem solving is a skill that requires the complete input of every field, from arts and architecture to robotics and social sciences.

Our children will need to be problem solvers in the future, as they may well inherit a world that is still recovering from climate change and a variety of problems in society that we might not be able to address in time. By engaging them with problems that allow them to spark their creativity and complex solving skills, they’ll be encouraged to think outside the box, which will carry over to much later in life.

Few jobs in the future workforce will be doable alone. The vast majority of them will be gigantic collaborative efforts, and you can’t just be a single cog in the machinery anymore, just focusing on your single task. Our students will need to learn how to work together effectively to achieve common objectives.

A school that prepares these soft skills

At Swiss International Scientific School In Dubai, we believe that these soft skills are absolutely as important as the hard skills, and we structure our curricula accordingly. We use the IB curriculum, whose learner profile contains a variety of soft skills that line up with these future needs.

We also engage our students constantly both in and out of the classroom, supplying them with the tools and opportunities they need to grow in these soft skills. Our Innovation Labs are available for students to explore and use for personal projects, giving them the freedom to develop skills outside of classroom and curriculum needs.

In addition, our boarding students have also collaborated to arrange weekend activities, such as a visit to iFLY earlier this year. We’ve also hosted runway shows, and have even recently entered into a partnership with the Jameel Arts Center, which will allow us to develop creativity and other soft skills even more.

All of these and more are opportunities that we provide to holistically develop each student, equitably providing hard and soft skill training that will certainly serve them in the future.


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