Our economic growth and health as a nation rely on our collective ability to innovate. The most successful innovations – across healthcare, education, R&D, manufacturing and the environment – result from the combination of creative thinking, world-class technology and cutting-edge design. Going beyond the core competencies associated with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to embrace the concept of STEAM (championing art and creativity in education) is imperative to drive the economy forward.

Today’s professionals agree. Consider the results of “Adobe Creativity and Education: Why It Matters,” a recent Adobe-sponsored study of 1,000 college-educated professionals in the United States over age 25, all with at least a four-year degree. Of those surveyed, 71% believe that creative thinking should be taught as a course, like math and science. Further, 91% agree that there is more to success in school than focusing only on course material. 85% agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career.

To better prepare our students for the challenges of today’s global workplace, creativity can no longer be treated as an elective in education; it must be core to the way we teach and learn and promoted across the fields of STEM. We think this will also benefit education: For example, students are more engaged when a complex theory is explained through a movie or a simple animation and display better understanding of material when asked to create a visual presentation on a given subject. Through project-based collaborative learning, educators can link core concepts, technology and creativity to further challenge and encourage students to look for new ways to solve problems, express their ideas and communicate with peers.

There is still much to be done. A separate “Adobe State of Create” study found that only 39% of those surveyed believe that they have creative skills, yet more than 60%, including hiring managers of tomorrow, view creativity as important. Students, educators and employers in all industries are demanding creative skill-sets that are critical to solving tomorrow’s challenges. By embracing STEAM and integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, educators can help bridge the creativity gap within the global economy and help ensure the success of the next generation.