The Growing Divide: The Education System vs Business Priorities for Creative Thinking

A young child dressed in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase overflowing with creative items like paint brushes and stickers, looking at their working life ahead of them and sad.
Our education systems are overlooking creative thinking - a skill that businesses are emphasising as crucial for the future. This growing divide urgently needs our attention. It's time for a creative revolution, for us to advocate for education reforms, and to push back against outdated educational paradigms that stifle creativity and innovation.

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Have you ever wondered why businesses across the globe are emphasising creative thinking as a crucial skill, while our education systems often overlook it? This unsettling question is at the core of a critical disparity we urgently need to address.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report, there is a significant disconnect between the skills that businesses anticipate needing by 2027 and those our education systems prioritise. Let’s explore this growing divide.

The Surge of Creative Thinking in Business

Already, I’m alarmed by how many times I start articles with the phrase “We are living in an age of unprecedented technological advancement and societal change”, but it’s true. It’s becoming increasingly more hard to deny, and it’s becoming even more difficult not to say!

Creative thinking has become an essential tool in the business world to navigate this rapidly evolving landscape. Among the top 10 skills businesses anticipate needing by 2027, the World Economic Forum’s 2023 report ranks creative thinking second, only surpassed by analytical thinking.

Why is creative thinking so crucial in business today? The answer lies in the unique challenges and opportunities that characterise our times. Automation, AI, and big data are transforming the way we work, making some jobs obsolete while creating new ones. In this shifting landscape, the ability to generate original ideas, approach problems from fresh perspectives, and adapt to change are invaluable assets.

Moreover, creative thinking feeds into and enhances several other skills on the top 10 list, such as curiosity and lifelong learning, motivation and self-awareness, and empathy and active listening. These are all components of what Sir Ken Robinson referred to as ‘The Element‘ – the point where natural aptitude meets personal passion.

The Education System's Neglect of Creative Thinking

While businesses are increasingly recognising the value of creative thinking, our education systems, by and large, are lagging. The traditional model of education, with its emphasis on rote learning and standardised tests, often stifles rather than stimulates creative thinking.

study by Adobe (which, by the way, is absolutely fabulous and one to explore further) found that while 97% of educators and 96% of policymakers recognise that creative problem solving is a very important skill, only 69% of educators, and 61% of policymakers globally, believe that it’s prioritised in today’s curriculum.

This disconnect is a significant concern. As we prepare our young people for the future, we must equip them with the skills they will need to thrive – and creative thinking is among the most essential.

Regrettably, current trends suggest we’re falling short in this task. According to a Gallup Poll in 2013, student engagement in the US drops from 76% in elementary school to 44% in high school. Extrapolating the findings from the Adobe report, you can assume that these correlate worldwide in much the same way, indicating a decline in the creative, stimulating learning environments necessary for fostering creative thinking. They call this ‘The Student Cliff’.

Time for a Creative Revolution

The need to bridge the gap between the education system’s priorities and business needs has never been more apparent. As the co-founder of The Creative Revolution, I believe it’s our collective responsibility to champion the cause of creative thinking.

We must advocate for education reforms that prioritise creative thinking alongside traditional academic skills. We must work to create learning environments that encourage curiosity, challenge conventional wisdom, and celebrate diverse talents and ways of thinking. We need to ensure our children have the opportunity to develop the creative thinking skills that will not only make them valuable to future employers but also enable them to navigate the complexities of the 21st-century world with confidence and resilience.

The rise of creative thinking as a top business priority highlights the urgency of our mission here at The Creative Revolution. The future of jobs increasingly demands individuals who can think creatively, solve complex problems, and adapt to change. Yet, our education systems are failing to prepare students adequately for this reality.

This is not just a matter of economic necessity. Prioritising creative thinking in education can also contribute to the personal fulfilment and well-being of individuals. As Sir Ken argued, when people find their ‘Element’—their natural aptitude aligned with their personal passion—they are not only more likely to be successful, but also more likely to feel personally fulfilled and satisfied with their lives.

The time for a creative revolution is now. We must push back against the outdated paradigms of education that stifle creativity and innovation. We must work towards a future where every individual has the opportunity to develop their creative potential to the fullest.


  1. How have you experienced this disconnect between education and business needs in your own life or work?

  2. What changes would you suggest to our education system to better nurture creative thinking?

  3. Can you share any examples of how creative thinking has contributed to success in your personal or professional life?


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