Monday, September 26, 2016

Education and skills for full spectrum innovation

The connections between education and the labour market (or careers, from a student perspective) are often seen in light of the need for specific skills sets. Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) get a lot of play here. The thinking goes that as the future is digital, digital (i.e. coding) skills are increasingly in demand. All true. But we need a balanced approach to skills, matching STEM with the arts and design. We call this STEAM+D.

The OCAD University submission to the Federal Innovation Agenda outlines the STEAM+D approach: "Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math + Design – representing the full spectrum of expertise required to enable social and economic innovation."

Others have written about similar concepts in terms of needing a society with a variety of complementary skills, expertise and interests. I have used Technology Readiness Levels as a way to unpack the route from idea to innovation, helping us understand what "full spectrum innovation" means: leveraging complementary (individual, institutional) strengths in the service of innovation. Increasingly this includes the arts, humanities and design. See this piece for an example of the 10 skills you need to thrive tomorrow – and the universities that will help you get them.

Innovation literacy in this context includes the ability to work productivity with others, from different cultures, disciplines, and skills levels. These are essential elements for realizing full spectrum innovation.

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