21st century skills

21st century skills in action and eight key competencies for lifelong learning

Vanessa Kamkhagi

As Educators we’re all aware that the world of teaching and learning is changing, and that students must acquire new skills to secure a bright future.

Here in Milan we participated in a World ORT program that offers our students an international, project-based learning course which develops key skills with a strong emphasis on competencies for lifelong learning.

Would you like to help your students to build towards their future?

The World ORT Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) and competition could be a valuable tool.

As one of the YEP mentors, I’d like to share our experience in this multidisciplinary initiative with other educators in our network.

YEP combines entrepreneurship, digital, and organizational skills, teamwork, English language, technology, design, engineering, economics and more. 

Through a 30-week curriculum delivered in schools, global webinars and assignments, students are tasked with developing a creative but feasible idea responding to a market need. They are asked to build a prototype and pitch their idea to a panel of judges to compete against the six other international teams in the program.

Developing Key competences through YEP

 YEP develops the eight key competencies for lifelong learning expressed by the European Commission. These are skills and attitudes which have been identified as necessary for personal fulfilment and development, employability, social inclusion and active citizenship.

  1. Communication
  2. Communication in a foreign language
  3. Math, science, technology and engineering
  4. Digital
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Social and civic
  7. Initiative and entrepreneurship
  8. Cultural awareness and expression

 The aim is to develop a product that will be valuable to real-world needs.

During the course students research, communicate and debate their ideas amongst their peers (communication) before going on to prepare a pitch in English (communication in a foreign language).

The teams work collaboratively to build their ideas and solve problems together as they develop business plans.

They explore the world of product design and develop a prototype with Tinkercad, print it with 3D printers and program it with Arduino and C2 (mathematical competence and competence in science, technology, engineering and digital competence).

To carry out all these tasks, students must have the ability to manage their time and workload, to work with others, remain resilient and to support the well-being of their fellow team members and peers (Personal, social and learning to learn competence).

The students gain an understanding of civic and social life, socio-economic structures and global development as they research their product and what it would take to manufacture and develop it in the real world. This could even include a concern for environmental sustainability: last year one of the products was a smart, energy saving automated socket (citizenship competence).

Eventually, by the completion of the course, students acquire “the capacity to act upon opportunities and ideas and to transform them into values for others” as they refine their learning into a sleek pitch and presentation for the judges and the world (entrepreneurship competence).

Throughout the program students are aware that they are competing on an international stage to an international set of judges. The pitch, presentation and promotion of their work is therefore adapted accordingly (cultural awareness and expressive competence).

Skills for the future

This multidisciplinary way of dealing with subjects enables students to think outside of the box and to define their future studies and future life projects.

As for ‘soft skills’, collaboration, communication, resilience and drive are in abundance as the competition inspires the teams to push themselves and each other to produce their best work.

Although we didn’t win last year’s competition, our team did go on to win a national entrepreneurship competition called Che Impresa Ragazzi, carried out by the Feduf Foundation with the recognition of the Italian Education Ministry, which included over 52 Italian schools.

It’s a wonder to see the progress in our students and I wish every teacher and every student this achievement of entrepreneurship competency.

Scuola Della Comunita Ebraica, Milan is one of seven schools involved in the 2018/2019 pilot of the World ORT Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program. The team worked with many Italian partners on this program, including Feduf, an Italian foundation for economic literacy, Global Thinking Foundation, a foundation involved in economic literacy among women and students, Italiacamp, a foundation for stem education, Luiss HUB, a branch of the Luiss University  with a fablab, and start up incubator and Unicredit Bank.

 The program will be expanding to new schools around the world in 2019/2020, for more information please contact Natasha Shaw at Natasha.shaw@ort.org