The Key to a Strong Workforce

What educators and employers need to know about arts education


America’s schools are filled with bright, creative children who will be tomorrow’s health care professionals, engineers, software developers, and political leaders. One thing we know for sure: Students who have rich learning experiences that include the arts develop the technical skills and knowledge that employers need to advance their companies. Simply stated—the arts help students develop the thinking, social, and motivational skills needed for success in school, work, and life. Here’s how:


A curriculum that provides rich arts experiences will result in future workers who are able to communicate effectively in verbal and written forms. Students develop strong listening skills through their work with theater directors, musical conductors, and peers. These listening skills help reinforce the verbal and written communication skills used in the workforce every day. 

Collaboration and Creativity

By learning in and through the arts, students learn ways to collaborate, persevere, concentrate, and set and achieve goals. The arts foster individual and collective creativity while teaching students to build understanding and respect for others. These students have the ability to be flexible and often excel at managing multiple priorities. They are more often high-performing members of the workforce, and have the ability to work effectively as part of a team. 

Innovative Thinking

Businesses are looking for workers who can assess a challenge and then creatively combine the skills and knowledge they possess to solve it. In an era of increasing global competitiveness that rewards progress and discovery, our economy requires this kind of ingenuity and innovation.

In addition, savvy business leaders employ the ideas of creativity and innovation in their branding, marketing, and mission. In 2001, researchers from McKinsey & Company conducted a survey of 6,000 executives. This study revealed that one of the toughest challenges businesses will face in the future is finding employees able to “make good decisions in times of uncertainty…adapt to new opportunities, and respond creatively to change.” 

Joining Forces

Companies clearly have a vested interest in supporting arts education: It’s good for business. Corporate leaders are influential, wielding power and access to resources. These individuals shape public opinion, and many have a track record of supporting education. Engaged business leaders share a concern with teachers: They are interested in dynamic schools, communities, and a future workforce that is prepared and engaged.

A learning environment that includes the arts will better prepare students for a competitive workforce. It will help them succeed and be fulfilled in their lives, including being active members of their communities. If more students’ learning experiences include high-quality arts education, then our businesses will be filled with smart, self-confident, and creative leaders.



Christy Farnbauch
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Katie Freeman


Armstrong, K. (2000). The war for talent: Department of Defense and private sector battle for survival. McKinsey & Company, LLP.

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