By John M. Eger for the World Future Society
The future workforce will need to be more innovative, argues a communications and public policy scholar. While math and science are important, they need to be infused with the creative spark that comes from the arts.
The challenge today is not in acquiring information, but rather in determining what information is most accurate and relevant to us. Knowing how to separate good from bad information and knowing which information has value in our quest for knowledge and wisdom is a unique and essential skill. And the demand for a new workforce to meet these challenges is rapidly increasing.
As a special report in Business Week magazine observed several years ago, “The game is changing. It isn’t just about math and science anymore. It’s about creativity, imagination, and, above all, innovation.” Most analysts studying the new global economy agree that the growing creative and innovative economy represents a central ingredient in defining future success.
But how do we make someone innovative and creative? What must schools—from kindergartens to universities—and communities do to nurture and attract the most innovative and creative workers?
“We need a system that grounds all students in pleasure, beauty, and wonder,” says Dana Gioia, chairman of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts. “It is the best way to create citizens who are awakened not only to their humanity, but to the human enterprise that they inherit and will—for good or ill—perpetuate. … [America] is not going to succeed through cheap labor or cheap raw materials, nor even the free flow of capital or a streamlined industrial base. To compete successfully, this country needs creativity, ingenuity, innovation.”
Learning to learn and finding the joy of learning in an age where people could go through a dozen jobs well before middle age has greatly complicated matters. Now add in the probability that tomorrow’s top jobs haven’t even been imagined yet because they’ll use technologies that haven’t been invented, as former U.S.
Secretary of Education Richard Riley has suggested. Clearly we are headed into a new and uncertain future.