21st century skills. Social and emotional learning skills. “Soft” skills. Whatever you choose to call them, there is a set of skills that are essential for success in school, work, and life — and yet teaching and assessing these skills in a formal, structured way can be challenging.

According to a report from McKinsey & Co., the global workforce will undergo a dramatic shift as a result of automation. The need for basic cognitive skills will decline by 15 percent over the course of this decade, while skills that can’t easily be replaced by computers —social and emotional skills such as leadership and empathy, and higher cognitive skills such as creativity and critical thinking — will be in high demand.

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These are the skills we should be teaching in schools if we want to prepare students for the jobs of the future: skills that make us uniquely human, that differentiate us from machines. The ability to solve complex problems, adapt on the fly to rapidly changing circumstances, and dig deeper when the going gets tough, among others.

Honing these skills not only positions students for success in the workforce; it also prepares them to overcome adversity in school and life. It makes them more complete human beings who are able to thrive in any number of of situations and cultivate rich, rewarding relationships with others.

About the Author:

Katrina Salazar is the CEO of weThink, which helps schools teach and assess the skills required for students to succeed in all walks of life.


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