WANTED: 21st Century Skills


Tina MateoWritten by:

Are robots really taking over our jobs?  Will artificial intelligence and digital technology conquer us? Will automation rule over the entire economic system? No one really is 100% certain about how extensive the trend will grow but what is CERTAIN is our workforce must be agile and be able to adapt quickly to the rapid changes happening in the whole environment.

Prof Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, says we are in the 4th Industrial Revolution.  The 4th Industrial Revolution is characterized by a “range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital, and biological worlds, affecting all disciplines, economies and industries, even as far as challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”

The First Revolution marked the time when water and steam power were used to mechanize production.  During the Second Revolution electrical power was used to create mass production while in the Third Revolution electronics and information technology were already used to automate production.

Industries with High Demand


  • Agribusiness
  • Business Process Outsourcing
  • Health and Wellness
  • Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism
  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Banking and Finance
  • Manufacturing
  • Ownership Dwellings and Real Estate
  • Transport and Logistics


  • Creative Industries
  • Diversified / Strategic Farming and Fishing
  • Power and Utilities
  • Renewable Energy

In Demand Industries in the Future

  • Aerospace  – Iron and Steel
  • Automotive – IT-BPM
  • Automotive Parts – Manufacturing
  • Biodiesel – Cement Metal Casting
  • Ceramic – Tiles Motorcycles
  • Chemicals – Natural Health Products
  • Copper – Petrochemicals
  • Copper Products – Plastic
  • Electric Vehicles – Rubber Products
  • Electronics – Jewelry
  • Furniture – Tool and Die


Skills Students need in the 21st Century

Foundational Literacies – how they will apply core skills to everyday tasks

  1. literacy
  2. numeracy
  3. scientific literacy
  4. ICT literacy (Information and Communications Technology)
  5. Financial literacy
  6. Cultural and civic literacy

Competencies – how they will approach complex challenges

  1. critical thinking/problem solving
  2. creativity
  3. communication
  4. collaboration

Character Qualities – how they will approach their changing environment

  1.  curiosity
  2.  initiative
  3.  persistence/grit
  4.  adaptability
  5.  leadership
  6.  social and cultural awareness

In our country today, there seems to be a disconnection between what potential talents learn and train for and what the world of work needs.  Employers claim that competency requirements from these talents are not usually met. The employer assumes that formation has already been done in school so the expectation is that applying what has been learned would be fast and efficient.  There is clearly a skills gap.

This is the challenge faced by our education system and it is not that easy to solve.  More than just the skills gap are factors that include fundamental economic and social problems of our society such as poverty, conflict, poor health, etc.  Progress in addressing the 21st century skills gap cannot be achieved without addressing these basic elements first.

Apart from this, 4 other country level education areas have been identified that are holding back country’s performance.  

These are:

  1. Policy enablers:  Standards that govern K-12 education
  2. Human Capital:  Teacher quality, training and expertise
  3. Financial Resources:  The importance of education in public budgets
  4. Technological Infrastructure:  Access to new digital tools and content via the internet

There have been numerous innovations and researches in education technology that have been done and are still ongoing.  These are beginning to show potential in improving education and addressing the skills gaps. However, even with technology’s great influence in our economic system, such as the proliferation of the use of artificial intelligence and robots,  it would still be wise to keep in mind this quote from Dalai Lama, “When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.” After all, it is still the human brain behind these machines.


APPCU seminar speakers: Ma. Luz C Vilches, Ph.D, VP, Loyola Schools, ADMU 

Grace Abella-Zata, CEO, IRC Institute

www.weforum.org – the Fourth Industrial Revolution – what it means and how to respond

Project JobsFit, the DOLE 2020 Vision; BLE, DOLE

National HRD Roadmapping; presented during the 37th National Conference of Employers, ECOP 2016

www.weforum.org – New Vision for Education – Unlocking the Potential of Technology

















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