The current paper presents the Italian results of the Project Erasmus + “21st Century Skills: Changing the Approach to Teaching in Higher Education” funded by the European Commission. The paper is aimed at presenting the work of Smarthink Ltd, as project partner, providing definitions, current research, and the best practices for teaching the ‘so-called’ soft skills among university students and fresh graduates in Italy, and to understand the employers’ perception of the owned and desired competencies among young employees. The study design was twofold. Firstly, desk research where major documents, national and international, were collected on the topic in Italy, and secondly, market research where a sample of entrepreneurs was interviewed in order to gather additional information on the level of development of these skills among young graduates and employees. Findings revealed that in Italy 21st Century Skills developed by young graduates are still few and that there are only a few examples of best practices to develop these competencies at the university level. In addition, employers testified that, while young graduates are usually well prepared in terms of the level of knowledge acquired during their studies, on the other side, they regularly lack practical skills and soft skills required by the marketplace. In conclusion, there is a broad and general need in Italy to improve these skills in order to make young people more employable, giving priority to skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and self-direction. For this reason, the role of institutions like universities becomes crucial in order to reach this goal.
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