Bosses reveal the skills the UK needs to compete

Couple playing chess

Employers believe a portfolio of skills for innovation is needed urgently for the UK to compete, including problem-solving, communication and creativity.

More than half of 2,000 quizzed by researchers on future skills expressed concerned about increased competition from emerging economies such as China and Singapore.

These are nations putting creative education at the heart of their plans for growth, with Singapore having recently established a commission on design education.

But in the UK, creative subjects have been described by the Department for Education as “strategically unimportant”, according to Kingston University which commissioned the research from the polling company YouGov.

And they point out that government figures clearly demonstrate the importance of the creative industries, which contribute £115.9bn GVA to the UK economy – more than the aeronautical, automotive, life sciences and the oil and gas industries combined.

The application of such skills is not only central to the creative industries in which the UK is world-leading but also a catalyst in others

A third of creative jobs are not in the creative industries themselves, but in other sectors.

The polling followed discussions with companies including Deloitte, Mastercard and Lidl about what challenges the UK faces to remain globally competitive and the skills needed to achieve that.

The top “skills for innovation” identified were problem-solving, communication, critical thinking, along with those involving digital and analytical prowess.  Others included an ability to build relationships and a critical mindset.

Prof Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University, said: “Creative skills drive business transformation and regional growth and have a tangible impact on local communities.

“The application of such skills is not only central to the creative industries in which the UK is world-leading but also a catalyst in others, such as healthcare, local services, sustainability and regeneration.

“This is the environment in which the rigour of creative problem solving prospers and helps grow new approaches, products and industries.”

Rick Haythornthwaite, Chair of Ocado, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, even the most successful companies will be required to adapt and change. This requires the ability to think creatively, to question how processes can be improved, and to identify solutions for a raft of new challenges.”

Mr Haythornthwaite, who also chairs the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, added:  The skills needed to achieve this – the very attributes identified – are invariably skills developed and nurtured through a creative education that ignites rather than squanders innate abilities. 

“If the UK learns to value and truly harness its collective imagination, our country’s brilliant creative minds will be enabled to not only rebuild the UK post-pandemic, but drive it towards an inspiring and sustainable future.”

The report in full here