Giving Today's Students a Competitive Edge in Tomorrow’s Workforce

January 3, 2018


Today’s students see themselves as smart, hardworking, and even more innovative than past generations—and they are passionate about making things better and smarter. They’re also native technology users, and you might assume that would be their most competitive asset for thriving in a future workforce that relies increasingly on technology. But as educators seeking to prepare our students for their future, we can’t afford to overlook the value of creativity.

Today’s employers are looking for a creative workforce. Creative, "divergent" thinking is a skill that’s in-demand in nearly every industry, not just the ones that we typically think of as “creative professions” like graphic design or marketing.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from industry leaders who value creative thinking in the workplace:

  • “The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” —Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney
  • “You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.” —Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp
  • “Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.” —Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
  • “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” —Steve Jobs, Former CEO, Apple 

It’s not surprising to learn that creativity is regarded as one of the top three personality traits most important to career success, along with intelligence and personability (Creativity and Education: Why It Matters). In fact, 85% of professionals in this study felt that creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career. And most agree that it is so important, it should be taught as a course, like math and science.

As educators, it’s not enough to assume that creativity is an innate skill—like any thinking skill, it must be actively taught through ample opportunities for divergent thinking, problem solving, and ideation. And we must debunk the myth for our students that creativity means we have to “create” a tangible product, such as a painting or a screenplay. Creativity can simply mean an innovative way to explain a concept. Let’s begin by calling out all forms of creativity for our students. In math class, when a student sees a problem’s solution in a different way, let’s praise that as creativity!

The ability to think creatively can help give our students a competitive edge when they enter the workforce—whether they are interacting with clients, creating solutions, or developing innovative strategies. As educators, we can strive to infuse more creativity in the classroom because we know that it will be essential to our students’ future success.

Creativity is going to play an integral role in solving many of the challenges the world faces today. How are we preparing our students for their future? Let us know at!