Which Soft Skills for the 21st century?

May 17, 2023
Identifying the soft skills is the first step of the MEGASKILLS project.

The University of Warwick and Palacký University have finished the first two major deliverables of the project.

Together, they have prepared a working paper on “D2.1 Soft skills for the 21st century – definitions, taxonomies, models- systematic literature review and in-depth analysis" and the "D2.2 A research report on “Soft skills for the 21st century – academic, institutional, professional and practical approaches". Indepth analysis and comparison". Below we summarise the the main conclusions.

There is strong agreement between academics and practitioners about which soft skills are important in the 21st century. But neither the concept of soft skills itself nor individual soft skills have a single, established definition. Similarly, there is no single categorization or hierarchical model of soft skills.

Our systematic review found that the term ‘soft skills’ is widely used, though without an accepted definition of its meaning or a definitive list of the skills included in. Nonetheless soft skills were universally characterised as being transversal, meaning that those in possession of the skills could apply them in different work contexts and they were said to have ‘adaptive value’ that being particularly important in a world characterised by uncertainty and complexity.

Overall, 46 different soft skills were identified from the review with ‘communication’ as the most frequently occurring soft skill. From their definitions it is possible to further categorise the soft skills emerging from the review. For instance, they can be conceptualised as those which are interpersonal, enacted between people, and those which are intrapersonal, those ‘existing purely within an individual’ while still being framed as a skill.

Approaches to assessment were also identified and include: commercially available personality testing (sometimes referred to as psychometric testing); self-report questionnaires; progression models; interviews; situational judgement tests; observations and those which combined different methods to make overall judgements.

At this stage of the research, if we were to propose The Big Three Soft Skills that are important in the 21st century and can be developed through video games, which is the goal of the MEGASKILLS project, they would be:

- Critical thinking - Briefly explained as the ability to actively and skillfully analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information in order to formulate responses, solutions, and make informed decisions

- Creativity - Briefly explained as the ability to generate original and innovative ideas, approaches, and solutions to problems through the application of knowledge, imagination, and divergent thinking

- Adaptability - Briefly explained as the ability to adjust and modify behavior, plans, or strategies in response to new or changing situations


These results will be further elaborated, verified and updated in the next parts of the project, in collaboration with experts in the field, and practitioners from companies.

The full reports will be accessible here.

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Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.