Creative skills and digital literacy: Equipping the next generation for success

5 people in a group working and laughing

As the new academic year begins, it brings with it the welcome promise of a clean slate after the pandemic-induced disruption of the previous year. Education and skills are also hot on the wider agenda, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently referring to government as being “obsessed with skilling up our population” to ready more people to meet the challenges of the modern workplace.

Johnson’s ambition chimes well with the most recent World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, which stated, “The bounty of technological innovation which defines our current era can be leveraged to unleash human potential. We have the means to reskill and upskill individuals in unprecedented numbers.”

But what skills should we be focusing on? The rapid digitalization during the pandemic highlighted the growing importance of digital literacy both within education and the modern jobs market. According to a paper published this summer by academics at Oxford University and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the pandemic led to the accelerated take up of digital technologies, as they became the business world’s primary means of communication. The report included polling of businesses leaders, who highlighted the importance of their organisations having the “skills to deal with emerging platforms”, along with being “on top of this multiplatform, multinarrative environment”.

Creative skills in the workplace

Adobe’s Get Hired research scanned over 100,000 job postings and CVs, and identified communication, creativity, collaboration, creative problem solving, and critical thinking as the top five key skills that employers today are demanding. The study also identified an apparent significant skills gap in the jobs market: 50% of jobs posted listed creativity as a necessary skill, and 71% listed communication, while around three quarters of CVs did not mention them at all.

There is clearly a mismatch between how candidates and employers see the opportunities to demonstrate these skills in their applications, and what they perceive as the most important attributes in order to seize that opportunity. The Get Hired findings were further supported by the earlier mentioned WEF report, which identified “Creativity, originality and initiative” amongst its Top 10 Skills of 2025.

It is vital that the importance of creativity throughout education system at every level, in every discipline, is recognised, if candidates are to fulfil the needs of the job market, both today and in the future. However, digital literacy is an essential part of the puzzle as a key enabler to developing and showcasing these skills.

Enabling creativity for all through digital

Technology is a great leveller; access to the right tools can enable young people regardless of age, background and ability to express themselves and present ideas in a persuasive and captivating manner, regardless of the subject. For example, the Adobe Digital Edge Award invited all students in higher education to submit assignments from their courses that had been further enhanced with Adobe Creative Cloud. Attracting over 600 entries from 108 UK universities, the award saw students exploring their curriculum in new and engaging ways.

The winners included Tom Ushakov, who used Adobe InDesign and Illustrator to create a 50-page graphic novel on the building he designed as part of his architecture degree at University College London.

Creativity skills in the curriculum

Last year, Teesside University became the first Higher Education institution in Europe to become an Adobe Creative Campus. This was in acknowledgement of the university’s commitment to promoting digital literacy throughout their curriculum, with their Future Facing Learning strategy. The Creative Campus status gives the 16,000 plus students and staff access to Adobe Creative Cloud, and Pro Vice-Chancellor. Professor Mark Simpson has said: “There is a fundamental need for educational institutions to shift to a broader, future-focused perspective, which incorporates digital literacy and the ability to express yourself creatively at its core, across all subjects. All too often arts has been side-lined as irrelevant, but it is an equal partner for all subjects and should be woven through everything that institutions teach.”

For more information on Adobe Creative Campus and how Creative Cloud can be used in education, please visit our dedicated page.