21st Century Competencies

YPI supports the development of 21st Century competencies, which are generally accepted in Canada and beyond as being required for students to succeed after graduation in today’s social and economic, and environmental landscape. These competencies are targeted across provinces through course curriculum. YPI provides opportunities for students to develop these competencies as well as opportunities for educators to assess them clearly. The table below, adapted from Shifting Minds, a research publication by C21: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation outlines each 21stcentury competency and its alignment with YPI.

Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Creativity: The ability to apply creative thought processes to create something of value.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The capacity to create and apply new knowledge in innovative and entrepreneurial ways to create new products or solve complex problems.

The capacity to invent new problem solving heuristics when all standard protocols have failed (Dede)

Today's economic, social, environmental and financial challenges are increasingly complex and require creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to solve problems and keep apace of the ongoing and escalating demand for new and innovative solutions and products. For success in school, work and life, people must be able to use creativity in order to adapt, generate new ideas, theories, products and knowledge.

Students are encouraged to be as creative as possible when putting together their pitch presentations for the $5,000 YPI grant. At most schools, there are more than 100 students taking part in the competition, and students are required to think of ways their presentation will stand out if they are interested in securing a grant for their organization.

Critical Thinking

A deep understanding of and capacity to apply the elements and processesassociated with critical thinking and problem solving.

The ability to acquire, process, interpret, rationalize and critically analyze large volumes of often conflicting information to the point of making an informed decision and taking action in a timely fashion.

The knowledge and digital era is demanding people with higher order thinking skills; the ability to think logically and to solve ill-defined problems by identifying and describing the problem, critically analyzing the information available or creating the knowledge required, framing and testing various hypotheses, formulating creative solutions, and taking action.

Students are required to apply critical thinking skills when faced with the complex challenges of the social issues in their communities covered through YPI. Students analyze the causes of these issues, and select an organization addressing an issues utilizing an approach that aligns with their values. After conducting deep research into the organization, students must then present the information in a compelling way to their peers.


The ability to interact positively and respectfully with others in creating new ideas and developing products.

The ability to lead or work in a team and to relate to other people in varying contexts, including capacity to resolve and manage conflict.

The capacity for sensitivity to the issues and processes associated with collaborating across cultures.

The ability to collaborate across networks, using various information and communication technologies.

Importance of interpersonal capabilities is higher and the skills involved more sophisticated than in the industrial era. Social media has created a dominant impact on the collaboration dynamic which occurs outside schools.

Students work in teams of 3-5 for their YPI project, and must collaborate effectively with one another to complete the project. Students are encouraged to select their groups based on personal values they explore early in the curriculum, or a shared interest in a social issue. There are many opportunities for distributing different elements of work in the YPI project based on personal strengths and interests, and collaboration happens in person and virtually through the project.


High level literacy skills, including strength in a person's mother tongue with multilingual capacity a definite asset.

The ability to use technology to develop 21st Century competencies in the context of core subjects.

The capacity to communicate using a variety of media and technologies.

The ability to access, analyze, integrate and manage large volumes of information.

The capacity to effectively use social media to communicate and resolve challenges.

The ability to critically interpret and evaluate ideas presented through a variety of media and technologies.

Highly developed cooperative interpersonal capabilities.

Communication is more complex and sophisticated and work is often occurring with peers located halfway around the world.

Learning science reinforces constructivist models of building understanding and making meaning which are built on human interactions.

Through YPI, students must communicate effectively in a variety of situations: internal communication among student groups; communication with a representative from an organization over phone/email and in-person for an informational interview; communication to an audience and judging panel during final YPI presentations.


Learners will develop 21st Century Life Skills, such as:

  • Life-long learner
  • Leadership, responsibility and accountability
  • Self-directed, adaptable and resilient
  • Tolerant, ethical and fair
  • Personal productivity
  • Interpersonal (people) skills
  • Mental and physical well being
  • Proficiency in managing personal relationships.

The knowledge economy and social environment is highly complex, fast paced, multi-cultural and stressful in nature, demanding people with highly developed interpersonal traits and strength of character.

Collaborating to learn requires social emotional learning skills including self-awareness, social awareness, selfregulation, relationship skills

YPI nurtures many of these life skills through the real-life experience that is core to the program in which students go outside of their school to learn about the work of an organization addressing a social issue. The project is student-directed by nature, and students have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate, for example, their leadership skills, people skills, and productivity. Our evaluations have proven an increase in empathy (or tolerant, ethical, fair beliefs and behaviours) among participating students.

Culture and Ethical Citizenship

The capacity to comprehend Canada's political, social, economic and financial systems in a global context.

The ability to appreciate cultural and societal diversity at the local, national and global levels.

The ability to critically analyze the past and present and apply those understandings in planning for the future.

The capacity to understand key ideas and concepts related to democracy, social justice and human rights.

Disposition and skills necessary for effective civic engagement.

The ability to understand the dynamic interactions of Earth's systems, the dependence of our social and economic systems on these natural systems, our fundamental connection to all living things, and the impact of humans upon the environment.

The capacity to consider the impact of societal and environmental trends and issues.

Canadians place value on the history and culture which shapes our country and its people.

Aboriginal communities in particular wish to see their culture reflected in Canadian education policy, programs and services. The increasingly global nature of the economic social, environmental and financial sectors means crosscultural interactions, creating both opportunities and challenges that require unique competencies and skill sets.

Canadians must be global citizens, with a clear identity of their own history and culture along with sensitivity and respect for diverse identities and cultures as impacted upon our sustainability.

YPI primes students with the knowledge and skills required for effective civic engagement. Students analyse existing social supports and identify ways in which they can personally contribute to making their community a better place.

Computer and Digital Technologies

The capacity to use computers and digital resources to access information and create knowledge, solutions, products and services.

The capacity to use social media for learning.

The 21st Century is a technology and media driven environment and digital literacy is an essential competency for both learners and teachers.

Online research into social issues and community organizations is required for YPI, and students are also encouraged to use digital tools to create their final presentations (videos, slide shows, digital art, etc.)

For more information on 21st century competencies, visit: www.c21canada.org.