On a recent Monday night while teaching Global Management Models, my students and I discussed the importance of human resources for international business strategy. The World Economic Forum’s Global Challenge Initiative on Employment, Skills and Human Capital, the Future of Jobs Report offered the perfect material to discuss the point in depth, as sectors world leaders were gathering for their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland as every January. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. The Future of Jobs Report aimed to alert those leaders about current stock of knowledge around anticipated skills needs, recruitment patterns, and occupational requirements on labor market from the perspective of some of the world’s largest employers.

The infographic shared in class surprised all of us. Creativity moved from position 10 to 3, and Cognitive Flexibility made the list for the first time. This is great news for education where the arts are present, since they are the springboard of creativity, innovation, and cognitive flexibility; but strategy to implement arts-infused curricula more fully in public education is needed to educate the workforce of the future. The call for strategic local arts advocacy is warranted.

I kept reflecting on the findings after class and realized that strategic thinking has been present in the Delaware Arts Alliance’s (DAA) goals and objectives in public education. There is a long way to go, as the state currently is implementing new core standards, but we have the sense that we are moving in the right direction.

The strategy on arts education began years ago when surveying our members on priorities to undertake: public education came high in the rankings, and that continues to be the case. Understanding that only educators know how to relate and work with students, DAA began incorporating to its Board and Committees remarkable members of the sector to craft and implement the agenda. A stakeholder’s analysis ensued and discussions to reach out to key players such as business, economic development, and education leaders at all levels was deemed important. The strategy included grasstops and grassroots elements to increase effectiveness.

The strategy became more tangible during the visit of the Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network on October 1 and 2, 2015. For two days Wilmington, DE became the epicenter of conversations on art and arts education initiatives as representatives of all states gathered to share best practices with the participation of local arts organizations. Activities included panels and workshops where business and education leaders representing a variety of sectors across the state engaged in quality discussions. Some of the topics included “The Creative Intersection of Business and the Arts,” “Fostering Arts & Business pARTnerships”, and “A Model for All Markets: The Evolving Relationships Between the Arts and Business Throughout Delaware as Catalysts for Community Growth” (the latter in partnership with Leadership Delaware Institute). The gathering got the attention of local press and the presence of Delaware’s Secretary of State, Jeff Bullock. The relationship with the Department of State where the Delaware Division of the Arts resides deepened.

A solid strategy allows room for flexibility as DAA continues plugging in on the arts education agenda. The 2nd Delaware Arts Advocacy Day on May 4, 2017 explored “Art-Education: The Key to Delaware’s Workforce of the Future” as part of the arts advocacy agenda. The panel combined the expertise of educators and business leaders representing the state and was co-moderated by Dr. Susan Bunting, Department of Education Secretary, and Jeff Poulin, Arts Education Program Manager from Americans for the Arts. The cultivation of statewide stakeholders is carried on and keeps moving.

The arts education strategy continues as DAA is already planning next steps. The efforts include curate research that supports the base for arts-infused curricula in Delaware. Intelligent arts advocates support policy with researched material. The absence of a central repository of research conducted in the state calls for immediate action. DAA is planning to fill the gap developing the pertinent relationships to accomplish the mission.

The Future of Jobs Report warns us all:

“65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content and the aggregate effect on employment is increasingly critical for businesses, governments and individuals to fully seize the opportunities presented by these trends—and to mitigate undesirable outcomes.”

Perhaps in a not-long-distance future, Delaware might have the base case for creativity, innovation, and cognitive flexibility as consequence of arts-infused curricula. The workforce the state needs to be competitive in globalized markets might depend on proving the case. We believe that the strategy in place will help us accomplish that.

Dr. Gullermina Gonzalez is the recipient of Americans for the Arts’ 2017 Michael Newton Award, which is given annually in recognition and honor of an individual for his or her innovation in developing arts and business partnerships for the arts and/or long-term achievement in effective and creative techniques to engage the private sector. Gonzalez is a member of Americans for the Arts.