The business and industry of today expect more from the administrators, students and every single individual. The key skills in this 21st century are for ensuring the demand of the industry which is always striving for a better and better workforce. The current education system severely lacks enthusiasm. This report has been developed with complete inspiration from the report “Learning for the 21st Century” published by Partnership for 21st Century Skill in the year 2006.
Let’s look into the role played by a technically inclined engineer. The person interacts more with machines than the connected workforce, since modern construction and civil engineering works on a platform coming out of the amalgamation of technology i.e., machines and human workforce, the highly skilled engineers are concerned with the automation of the involved process and execution of the steps. He is being supported by people of some type with a common objective, so his role in the workforce is quite low. He is more of an implementer than an able policymaker. He is being shown the goal; he does not decide the goal. But manager engineers are goal setters. Their leadership and communication ability make them as able personalities to lead a group to reach a height that can transform the state of the company as well as its workforce. He manages humans. He extracts quality work from the world’s most intelligent machine i.e., none other than human. The same is being expected from each and every student. The importance of 21st century skill is well understood. The current industrial requirement places the importance of it at par with lots of other important issues and wants it to be implemented in other very important but non-engineering courses like economics, management, marketing, etc.
The auxiliary skills are meant for providing a competitive edge and a professional posture to this engineering profession with a better understanding of other cultures and professions. The companies are now hiring those people who can be treated as a company’s mouthpiece. Each and every employee is now expected to possess sufficient capability to communicate and technological knowledge. The current requirement is not just centered on the extraordinary technical skill but also vibrant qualities which is nothing but the ability to communicate so that the situation would compel others to raise their head and notice the person. The marketability factor also plays a very important role in the requirement of the 21st century skilled workforce for example the skill which an engineer gets from its technical institute is very much mathematical in nature and can be classified under the category of primary skill which qualifies him or her for any success in the field of technical expertise including civil engineering. But the actual issues which affect the pay package of the person when compared with peers are the additional skills comprising of reasoning ability, verbal ability and quantitative ability. Even when these three different issues are taken into consideration, reasoning ability is the most treasured possession.
Now looking into the application of soft skills and communications skills over technical competence, the result is very much dependent on the ability of the individual to express. The 21st century skills focus on this aspect and aim to create a complete human being out of the students. This factor has its effect on a persons’ ability to make other notice its achievement and output. The results which have been obtained by the person are of great value when it is being described in the best possible manner. Though the verbal ability skills are not as primary as reasoning ability if in a group of persons with equivalent technical and reasoning ability, the ability to communicate becomes the deciding factor. The wide application base of verbal ability makes it the most desirable of all the extra technical abilities. Better control over verbal communications is actually the deciding factor in the selection procedure for managerial responsibilities. The students with better communication skills are considered to be the better managers and even in case of limited technical ability are very much handy in motivating the company’s workforce and getting the desired output. Even while holding some of the very important divisions it’s the better speakers or presenter who is being considered as the better team player and hence is given priority when positions like team leader or group leaders are to be filled. The extra responsibility always gets rewarded with increased pay packets and hence these people always command better salaries than their peers.
The education system as a whole requires a full-fledged overhaul and hence the implementation of 21st century skills is imminent. The educational reforms should also consider the inclusion of new developments in the field of information, the World Wide Web and the advent of software-dependent designing and animation works. The people in the industry are still to incorporate the change in world business. Today’s workplace and business environment are totally different than the one in the major part of the last century. There has been a considerable fall in the overall technical ability of the new brass of civil engineers and at the same time, their adaptability with the latest trend in the market has been severely lacking. There has been a considerable fall in extracurricular knowledge which includes verbal ability and communication skills, normally an engineer is expected to possess. All this has caused serious dissatisfaction among industry observers as well prospective employers. The students have been found to be incompetent not only in their technical ability but also in non-technical abilities and soft skills. The non-technical oral and written communications skills of an employee make him an asset to the company and at the same time a very good prospect for any additional responsibility. So, the very importance of it can be understood by the fact that these abilities can easily be translated into a higher salary. So, for new entrants, the non-technical skills are more of a set of employability skills which is termed as attributes of employees.
The trump card of 21st century is now the IT-based communication skill, one with better control over his speech and its quantity is going to be the one who earns the most among a group of equally qualified people. The industry needs more and more people processing this quality. The whole structure of the education system that produces quality engineers is now looking for a change. Civil engineering education is currently on the improvement of the non-technical abilities and skills of civil engineering graduates of the future. Understanding the increasing need to become an interactive society of the future, the civil engineers would need to access information and use computers and the internet so that they can match up with an ever-changing pace in the era of the fast-expanding information age.
Communication is believed to learn essential skills to achieve personal academic and professional success. It’s good communication skills that fuel self-confidence and enable a person to exert better control over his life as well as that of those around him. The modern age administrators are expected to be equipped with the same inherent feature that they can effectively research, conceptualize, organize and present ideas argument their mastery over oral communication will make them a wonderful link between the top management and the workforce at the inventory level. As the world has become very small, the information from far-off places is available with a click of the mouse. Websites are the second address of everything that has got dual presence i.e. both physical as well as virtual. Even though there is the same physical distance but virtually all are sitting together and are available at the virtual locations. The above-mentioned changes and the rate at which these changes are being incorporated into human civilization are going to continue and as a result, everything that will see the integration of technology will accelerate. These can be a business group or a community or a simple family. The matter of importance is the individual’s capability to adapt itself to changing conditions not only to thrive but to achieve further success.
Developed nations have always been the ones to begin any revolutionary change in technology, education, and then usage for the former in integrating the education process. The United States of America has been the most developed nation of the world right from the beginning of 20th century. Technology here is not a gadget but a lifestyle and the nation is going to have a new era when the education processes will very much be undertaken through the use of technology. The implementation phase will ensure the integration of technology and education. Beginning with this integration the most important part is the high school reforms. Any such initiation should ensure the entry of meaningful steps and processes that will provide a meaningful and ambitious thrust to the career of all students in form of knowledge and skills that will help them in preparing for a better future and successful life.
The Partnership of various government and non-government as well as political organizations has been brought into existence with a view to developing a much unified and collective vision for 21st century learning. The sole motive has been to strengthen the very basis of American high schools with a view to make it comparable enough to that of the international education level. The above-mentioned vision has been developed after ensuring sustained, comprehensive effort applied to produce a mutually inclusive understanding and generation of common terms and language for education. The Partnership has conducted extensive research on 21st century skills through a list of different groups for documenting the vision, its purpose, the ways of implementation and future transformations. The research process has targeted every class of educators, employers, parents, community members, and students, and then the vision was drafted. The Partnership sponsors various forums and summits so that the process would ensure regular phases of refinement of the same vision so that the initiative that has been named as 21st century skills would have to be powerful enough to meet all present and future challenges. The Partnership seeks support from every citizen and other stakeholders all across the nation in course of refining this multi-year process. There has been very extensive ground support for integrating 21st century skills into education. The extensive research work done by the Partnership has led to envision of six critical elements for the learning of 21st century skills. The six elements are as follows:
- Learning and thinking skills are supposed to contain nonacademic content but are supposed to be equally important with contributions in the development of critical and analytical thought process with several inputs of creativity and innovation with an emphasis on information and media literacy skills.
- The Information and communication technology-enabled education and its smart ability so that it can be used as a technology that can contribute to learning content and honing skills.
- Life skills education makes a citizen out of the child. Some of the different skills that come under the scope of this element are leadership skills, ethics, accountability and adaptability, people interaction, social responsibility and personal productivity.
- 21st century assessments provide a tool to measure the rest of the other six elements to ensure output of the rest of the five elements of the 21st century skills envisioned by the Partnership research.
The above-mentioned six different elements of 21st century skills can be further analyzed and explained accordingly. The first of the six elements is concerned with the “Core Subjects” emphasizing the basic theories related to knowledge and skill over which the platform of knowledge of a child gets prepared. The very first part of the education system is the building of the core subjects like English, arts, science, foreign languages, civics and administration, natural science, etc.
Emphasizing learning skills is for ensuring the all-around development of the student. The purpose of learning skills is to keep the students well aware of exactly what is going on all around the world including places that are meant for production and business. This can further be analyzed in such a way that apart from the Core subjects some of the few other areas of interest are ICT i.e., Information and Communication Skills; thinking and problem-solving skills and finally Interpersonal and self-directional skills. The need of the hour is to enforce the practice of these subjects in the school curriculum. Teachers have played a very important role in any the revolutionary changes that have been undertaken in the world of education that will require their participation.
The use of 21st century Tools will ensure up-to-date development of learning skills. The use of different electronic equipment will keep the development of the learning tools in accordance with the requirement of the digital world in which the students are residing. The very way of living in such an environment has necessitated the need to learn the different techniques of use and reuse of the tools irrespective of being analytical or digital but is essential to the day to day life and to increase workplace productivity. The citizen who has honed the skills of 21st century would be expected to be proficient in technology related to ICT and its usage for which the tool has been programmed. Digital technology and communication tools have to be used to achieve all sorts of work which will cause further improvement in the tool itself. The ICT literacy will ensure proper access and information management. It will make way for integration, information evaluation; construction and then communication of new knowledge with others in order to create new waves of effective participation.
Teaching and learning processes in a 21st Century Context will create a situation in which students will need to understand the real world for appreciating the academic content. This study of the real world will require both application and experience phases to be achieved both inside and outside the school. The new age teaching is for the purpose of devising techniques so that the students understand and retain most of the things that have been taught to them making the study more relevant thereby adding more to their learning. The process will require better content relevancy, ensuring total engagement and meaningful research to the study process. The new philosophy of education is not just innovation in the classroom but beyond that. The whole of this world is a school and learning is a process that begins with birth and ends with life. Schools are just a way to make a simple human being understand the importance of his brain and its proper usage.
Technology and learning of 21st Century Content serve the purpose of identification of three significant areas which will in long run emerge as a critical one for the success in communities and workplace. The three areas are Global Awareness; Financial, economic and business literacy; and Civic literacy. These subjects are not covered in the existing curriculum nor be taught in any school. Hence this is a very effective way to incorporate these contents into the teaching process ensuring refreshed infusion of knowledge and skill. The 21st Century Assessments has its usage in measuring other five 21st century skills all around the States and districts to ensure cumulative growth and implementation. It is very necessary to have a very high-quality standardized test that could measure students’ performance of the other elements of te 21st century education. Though these standardized tests can measure few but the most important skills but the rest of the things are being left upon the student by ensuring that after a better wave of education and teaching he or she can test its capability on its own. The 21st century skill educated student will be competent enough to learn a balance of assessments. The high quality of the standardized testing will serve the purpose of clarity over the accountability issue and will ensure the classroom assessment for improved teaching and learning processes. The classroom assessment will also offer students a very powerful way to master the content and skills that have now become elementary for achieving success in the 21st century. All levels of the class and education process have to be tested to keep the effectiveness of the skill.
Also, using the techniques of constructivism effectively, the teacher can teach or educate their students in a better way. Teachers are beginning to use technology as a tool to promote students’ ability to reason and solve authentic problems. Teachers have now been using technology and also integrating them into the formal education system with the intention to transform classrooms into technology-intensive knowledge centers providing purposeful learning with experimental learning that would intuitively create an environment of authentic action rather than awareness and simple information. The effective use of technology can integrate higher cognitive skill development and thinking skills such as problem-solving, reasoning, decision making, and scientific inquiry.
When teachers are thorough and totally integrate technology into the classroom a very different environment comes into existence. A constructivist learning environment is a place in which learners work together and support each other as they use a variety of tools and information resources in their guided pursuit of learning goals and problem-solving activities. Constructivist learning environments frequently encompass many different applications of media and technology. Classrooms under this environment are active with the combination of the tools of constructivism with communication and visualization tools that enable communication and collaboration among learners in a socio-cultural context. Increased student achievement can result because of the synergy created through dynamic interactions.
In short, the leaders must acquire the desired skill level which helps them in gaining the knowledge & the use of computer-based technology. The survey revealed that most students have said that their teachers do not use computers in sophisticated ways. And if the teachers are not provided the useful support needed to integrate computers into the overall framework of the classroom, it is unlikely that their students will use computers in ways that will improve their learning process.
Partnership for 21st Century Skill “Learning for the 21st Century”. 2006.