Opinion

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The creativity gap is harming UK businesses

5 Mins

It is not that we fail to possess some of the best talent and brightest minds in the world, but that we simply do not utilise these talented people in the most effective way. The need for a change in attitudes and strategy is huge and it has to be led from the top for a significant impact to be felt. 

I read and hear a lot about the rise of automation and the affect that it will have on a number of job sectors in the UK. It doesn’t seem that provisions or implementations are being put in place to help millennials, students and current employees and employers prepare for such a movement. The UK at the moment is simply sleepwalking itself into an oblivion. Automation is not something to fear, it is something that needs to be embraced and will ultimately complement some of the incredible and creative things people are doing up and down the country. 

If admin and other tasks can be automated then it can only be a positive thing – freeing up people’s schedules so they have the capacity to think creatively. This will mean more disruptive inventions and innovative thinking as a consequence. We should be inspiring creativity and teaching vital digital skills in the classroom to allow the new generation to become invaluable commodities and flourish in the new age of working.

You only have to look at the TalkTalk hacking scandal to get a picture of attitudes in the UK. Those allegedly responsible were all under the age of 20 and have seemingly managed to outwit a multi-national company and plunge the UK media in to frenzy through their actions. Young people such as these may be capable of breaking down security walls, but they are also capable of making them stronger. If, as a nation, we were engaging talent and harnessing it for positive use, we could have had these people teaching the heads of TalkTalk how to sharpen their security policies. The wealth of digital talent in today’s society need to be identified earlier and snapped up so they can strengthen our industry and credentials, rather than humiliating us.

Throughout education and graduate employment, there is not enough emphasis on people’s abilities to have hidden talents. If somebody isn’t hitting target or not achieving a good enough grade then they are simply deemed as underperforming and their other skills and abilities cease to be explored. If talented pupils and employees are disengaged then you have to ask the question why and how we can provide an environment and subject matter which can absorb people’s time and effort – that is what achieves the greatest levels of productivity and results. 

The majority of people enjoy thinking creatively, using their brains and working towards something with real purpose. Creative degrees are wrongly seen as limiting employment opportunities when in reality these degrees teach and hone skills which will serve well in this digital world, which is is still very much about people.

Employers, government and schools need to think like talent agents, building engines to exploit and get the best out of talent, and teach skills that amplify and add. There needs to be a continuum between learning at school and learning at work, and I would argue that the best learning environments will gain the best economic results whether it’s a school, a startup or a huge corporate.

The time for the creativity gap to be addressed in the UK is nigh. If you’re currently doing a robotic job then you shouldn’t be and it won’t be long before these jobs become automated. Natural flair and ability should be encouraged from an early age right through to employment – the individuals who have that spark should be harboured and nurtured and not fitted into a strait jacket. The UK has become the tech hub of Europe and possesses some of the world’s finest talent – let’s give everyone the chance to utilise their skills and natural abilities and plug the creative gap which we are currently suffering from.

 Gi Fernando is founder of Freeformers.

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