The Arts May Be the New MBA

Human resource experts are beginning to think that our focus needs to be not as much on science and math, but in the arts, in order to be globally competitive.

An article by Kate Pielemeier in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette may have escaped your notice:

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills, teamwork, creativity and innovation, professionalism and mathematics are key components of the arts — and are considered vital to competing in the global marketplace. But nationally, only 20 percent of employers said their employees possess these competencies [emphasis added], according to a 2005 Society for Human Resource Management study, “The Future of the Labor Force.”

“Our school systems still are based on agricultural and industrial models,” said Vanessa Lund, project director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Capital Policy Initiative, which works to improve policymakers’ understanding of economic and work-force development issues.

Phyllis Hartman of PGHR Consulting, a strategic human resources planning consulting firm in McCandless, agreed. “There is still a lack of understanding in HR circles of the value of the arts, unless the product or service of the company itself is art,” she said. Arts education “nurtures many transferable skills, including creativity, innovation, teamwork, lateral thinking, intuitive reasoning and thinking outside the box,” added Hilary Robinson, dean of the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.

The common belief in the USA is that the arts are a luxury, something to spend time and money on after you’ve done all the necessary things, and sports, and television, and then might come the arts. It may be time to address those cherished beliefs and begin to demand arts education and participation at every level in the community. First, start off with the schools; then work to bring art to afterschool programs and eventually, to the community at large. The experience of El Sistema, in Venezuela. Scotland, and the USA should be foremost in our minds as we attempt this. This is the time to begin the process that will truly put the world into the 21st century!

If you have children, there is no better way than arts education to prepare them for the challenges they will face in the years ahead as the rate of change in society continues to increase. Even for adults or seniors, it’s never too late to begin to acquire those skills which are coming increasingly into demand. In tough economic times, nothing helps more than acquiring new and rare skills–remember, only 20% of workers have those competitive skills!

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