Tool 3.2 – Transversal Skills

This tool provides a set of resources to introduce colleagues to the concept of 21st century skills. These are skills that all individuals need for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment.

Roger Blamire, Senior Advisor to European Schoolnet, provides you with an introduction to what are commonly referred to as 21st century skills.

21st century skills can be organised in three sets of fully interconnected skills essential for success in learning, working and life.

Learning skills

  • Learning to learn and metacognition – effective self-management of learning (time management, autonomy, discipline, perseverance, concentration), self-regulated learning (planning, monitoring and evaluating personal progress), critical reflection.
  • Life-long learning and networking – active learning and participation in professional learning networks and in cross-cultural, cross-generational and cross-disciplinary learning environments, inquiry-based and experiential learning.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving – using arguments, reasoning and analysis, appreciating different viewpoints to make judgements and conclusions, embracing curiosity to widen perspective and broaden knowledge, decision-making.
  • Computational thinking – combining computing power with critical thinking to solve problems in a creative and innovative way.
  • Creativity and innovation – creating new and worthwhile ideas individually and/or collaboratively and evaluating these ideas in order to improve and develop them into useful products/creations.

Working skills

  • Communication – expressing oneself confidently and clearly in various forms and in a variety of situations, understanding others and considering different perspectives to formulate arguments.
  • Collaboration – working in diverse teams making use of differences to create new ideas, collaboratively planning and organising; inclusion, selflessness, integrity and ability to lead and follow others.
  • Initiative and entrepreneurship – developing, planning and managing projects in order to achieve objectives, take risks and initiatives, and be leaders, but also learn how to work as part of a team.
  • Media literacy – finding relevant information, critically evaluating and using information across a range of digital sources and formats, media production (written, drawn, audio- or video-recorded and other content).
  • Digital skills – competently using digital technologies in communication, collaboration and problem solving, content creation and content management, e-safety, lifelong learning in virtual networks.

Life skills

  • Citizenship – globally connected and locally engaged, active participation to enrich local and global community, active involvement and positive interaction with institutions, a strong sense of own culture and identity.
  • Life and career – flexibility in taking on varied roles and responsibilities and adapting to change, using advice and self-reflection to set and manage personal and professional goals and relationships, successfully dealing with obstacles, determining priorities, career management.
  • Personal and social responsibility – self-awareness, empathy, compassion and solidarity, physical and mental well-being, physical activity, interpersonal interactions.
  • Cultural awareness – promotion and protection of cultural diversity and cultural heritage.
  • Sustainable development – meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


There are a number of frameworks describing 21st Century Skills. The ones provided here are derived from a range of sources, notably:

Suggested workshop activity

Discuss the different transversal skills listed above or from any other resource. What skills would you choose to be integrated in the scenario? The participants select one of the skills from the three categories and explain why the skills are a priority for the target audience they have in mind.