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Critical Thinking and Creativity Key: Job-Seekers Need to Be Prepared

Kristen Harris

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In a recent study1 of corporate employers critical thinking and creativity were indicated as important skills they need from new hires. The catch is that companies are not providing training for these skills, they expect new employees to come prepared in those areas.

When surveyed, more than 40% of employers indicated a “high need” for critical thinking but do not provide training in that area, and nearly 70% indicated a “high need” for creativity but do not provide training in that area. Additional areas that were considered important include ethics and professionalism, but training programs also are not provided. There is a trend here. Companies want people with strong basic and applied skills, but they are less willing to provide that training for new hires.

Even when employers are interested in offering training, it’s especially difficult to train for the creativity and innovation type of skills. They are tough to understand and define, and therefore hard to develop programs that meet the need. And there are wide discrepancies amongst what the business community is asking for from educators. Many programs are focused on basic skills, applied skills or STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math). While creative thinking may be a part of this training, there is little educational focus on creativity and innovation.

This reluctance to provide workforce readiness training can have an especially negative effect on younger workers and recent graduates. Many employers are not in the position to provide training for basic skills like math or reading comprehension, or applied skills key to the specific job, let alone these more nebulous creative skill sets. Not only are younger workers competing with more experienced workers for fewer jobs, but if they are also lacking key skills they can be at a major disadvantage in getting the jobs that are available.

What does this all mean? If businesses consider skills like creativity, innovation, professionalism and strong ethics to be important, but they are not providing training for those skills, then it is left to the job seeker to build the skills on their own. The era of starting somewhere, being trained on the job and staying there for thirty years is gone. Each individual is responsible for their career, their growth, and yes, their training.

1 The Ill-Prepared U. S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Training, 2008, The American Society for Training and Development, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included. ©2011 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

Kristen Harris is co-founder and owner of Portfolio Creative, a workforce innovation firm that was named the 326th fastest growing company in the U. S. by Inc. magazine in 2009. Portfolio Creative helps companies streamline and innovate their creative work to save time, energy and money.


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