The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

From Life Skills to Future Skills: Competencies that Nowadays’ Children Will Need in Ten Years’ Time

Corinna Borer, Dr., Scientific assistant and project manager, Centre for Teaching and Transcultural Learning, Zurich University of Teacher Education (Switzerland)

Wiltrud Weidinger, Prof. Dr., Head of Centre for Teaching and Transcultural Learning, Zurich University of Teacher Education (Switzerland)


During the past decade school systems have introduced life skills education in various forms in their curricula. Future challenges in society, global and regional, call for an adaptation of the concept of life skills education with a more future-oriented approach. These so-called future skills are subject of this article. In this respect theoretical frameworks of both approaches are presented and the shift from life skills education to future skills education is illustrated (WHO 1999; United Nations 2006). In the light of different compilations of future skills or “transformative competencies” (OECD 2019) that have been developed by in the last five years the question is raised about which skills nowadays’ school children will need in their future personal and professional lives (OECD 2019; Ehlers 2020; Samochowiec, 2020; DeJaeghere et al. 2016; Kotsiou et al. 2022). Future skills as a concept is discussed from the perspective of teacher in- and pre-service education and its implementation in compulsory schooling. As a suggestion, driven by the experiences in international cooperation projects of the Zurich University of Teacher Education a set of characteristics for future skills learning programs is presented. The set includes hints on how to formulate learning goals and competencies, how to develop content and topics, which teaching and learning methods to apply, how to include reflection and assessment of learning processes as well as general remarks about a future skills-oriented mindset of teachers. Teachers have a central position in this development, as they must adapt their own understanding of their role in context-specific teaching practices to support students so that they can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary in their future development and learning. It is therefore important to provide teachers with a professional development that enables them to accept the challenge in the interests of high-quality education. Teachers need to be equipped so that they are active as facilitators in practical project-based teaching processes, involving students in decision-making processes, staying in dialog with each other to learn from each other (peer-learning) and preparing students and themselves for current world events in a collaborative way. In transition countries, such as the Republic of Moldova, teacher training still emphasizes theory to an extent that is at the expense of practical relevance. A reform of the curricula at universities would be very welcome, as we are convinced that a solid reflection on everyday practice can lead to teachers being seen more as facilitators in the process of developing future skills than as mere lesson providers.

Keywordslife skills, future skills, transformative competencies, learning program, teacher education, peer-learning, professional development


[1] World Health Organisation (1999). Partners in Life Skills Education. Conclusions from a United Nationals Interagency Meeting. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

[2] OECD (2019). Transformative Competencies for 2030. OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030. Conceptual learning framework.

[3] Ehlers, U.-D. (2020). Future Skills. Lernen der Zukunft – Hochschule der Zukunft. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

[4] Samochowiec, J. (2020). Future Skills. Vier Szenarien für morgen und was man dafür können muss. Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute im Auftrag von Jacobs Foundation, Zürich.

[5] DeJaeghere, J., Pellowski Wiger, N. & Wangsness Willemsen, L. (2016). Broadening educational outcomes: Social relations, skills development, and employability for youth. Comparative Education Review, 60 (3), 457 – 479.

[6] Kotsiou, A., Fajardo-Tovar, D.D., Cowhitt, T., Major, L. & Wegerif, R. (2022). A scoping review of Future Skills frameworks. Irish Educational Studies, 41:1, 171 – 186.

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