Van Laar, E., Van Deursen, A.J.A.M., Van Dijk, J.A.G.M. & De Haan, J. (2017). The relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills or literacy: A systematic literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 577-588. 


Innovation starts with people, making the human capital within the workforce decisive. In a fast-changing knowledge economy, 21st-century digital skills drive organizations’ competitiveness and innovation capacity. Although such skills are seen as crucial, the digital aspect integrated with 21st-century skills is not yet sufficiently defined. The main objectives of this study were to (1) examine the relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills; and (2) provide a framework of 21st-century digital skills with conceptual dimensions and key operational components aimed at the knowledge worker. A systematic literature review was conducted to synthesize the relevant academic literature concerned with 21st-century digital skills. In total, 1592 different articles were screened from which 75 articles met the predefined inclusion criteria. The results show that 21st-century skills are broader than digital skills – the list of mentioned skills is far more extensive. In addition, in contrast to digital skills, 21st-century skills are not necessarily underpinned by ICT. Furthermore, we identified seven core skills: technical, information management, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. Five contextual skills were also identified: ethical awareness, cultural awareness, flexibility, self-direction and lifelong learning.

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