Closing the skills gap: Why creativity is essential to students’ workplace success
by Tacy Trowbridge
posted on 07-27-2016
The compensation data provider PayScale recently published its 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report, and the findings were eye-opening for schools and educators.
The report details the responses of almost 64,000 hiring managers across a wide range of industries who were asked about the “skills gap”—the disconnect between the skills students have when they graduate from college and the skills companies need. Here are a few of the stats that stood out for us:
- 60% of managers said new graduates do not have the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for the job
- 46% said new graduates lack the necessary communication skills
- 36% reported new graduates have inadequate interpersonal and teamwork skills
Similar findings are appearing everywhere. Here’s just a sample:
- The World Economic Forum reports that students with social and emotional learning (SEL) skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration are better equipped to succeed in the evolving digital economy.
- Bloomberg analyzed the skills gap among MBAs and found that the skills managers want most but have the most trouble finding include strategic thinking, leadership skills, communication skills, creative problem-solving, and working collaboratively.
- Fast Company describes 2016 as the year of the hybrid job, in which employers want multifaceted employees who have both hard skills like database technology and soft skills like communication and collaboration.
Dan Schwabel of Millennial Branding, which partnered with PayScale on their survey, summed things up this way: “Graduates need strong communication and problem-solving skills if they want to interview well and succeed in the workplace.”
Closing the gap with creativity
So how can educational institutions help students close the skills gap? It’s clear to us that they need to go beyond teaching traditional skills and make fostering creativity and developing digital skills a priority in the classroom.
Many of the skills current grads lack are associated with creativity, from critical thinking to communication to collaboration. But when schools teach students how to create digital content, they help them develop these in-demand skills.
Here are just a few examples:
- Through digital storytelling with video and illustration, students learn how to communicate ideas clearly and effectively.
- Through data visualization with animation and digital imaging, students become better at understanding, simplifying, and explaining information.
- When students work on complex creative projects like designing apps and websites in partnership with other students, they develop critical collaboration and interpersonal communication skills.
- And as they work on creative projects of all types, students develop the creative mindset employers crave.
In an education documentary, Tony Wagner of Harvard’s Innovation Lab was quoted as saying: “Employers say over and over ‘I will teach them (graduates) the content. What I can’t teach is how to think, how to communicate, how to collaborate, how to initiate.’”
But our schools and educators can certainly teach these things. And Adobe can help.
For an in-depth look at what forward-thinking educators are doing to close the skills gap, visit the Adobe Education Exchange.