This article elaborates on the competencies, often referred to as 21st century competencies, that are needed to be able to live in and contribute to our current (and future) society. We begin by describing, analysing and reflecting on international frameworks describing 21st century competencies, giving special attention to digital literacy as one of the core competencies for the 21st century. This is followed by an analysis of the learning approaches that are considered appropriate for acquiring 21st century competencies, and the specific role of technology in these learning processes. Despite some consensus about what 21st century competencies are and how they can be acquired, results from international studies indicate that teaching strategies for 21st century competencies are often not well implemented in actual educational practice. The reasons for this include a lack of integration of 21st century competencies in curriculum and assessment, insufficient preparation of teachers and the absence of any systematic attention for strategies to adopt at scale innovative teaching and learning practices. The article concludes with a range of specific recommendations for the implementation of 21st century competencies.