Championing Future Skills

Kingston University, in partnership with YouGov, spoke to UK employers about the challenges they face to remain globally competitive over the next 10-20 years. The Future Skills League Table highlights problem-solving, communication and creativity among the top 10 core skills needed for a prosperous economy.

Read highlights from the report below, including case studies, comments from our partners and what the government, sector regulators, employers and universities can do next.

Show your support on social media with #FutureSkillsLeagueTable

Skills for innovation

Skills for innovation

A campaign to strengthen the UK's competitive advantage in a changing world economy

The UK faces a historic challenge – to emerge from this pandemic stronger with a more dynamic enterprise economy.

The Future Skills report reveals employers believe a portfolio of skills for innovation is needed urgently for the UK to thrive, including problem-solving, communication and creativity. Read the full report here.

The creative industries make a substantial contribution to the UK economy, and crucially, they add value to other industries. However, the importance of creativity and innovation to the future UK economy contradicts government declarations that university education for the creative industries is not important strategically, with reductions in funding no doubt to follow.

We asked employers about the challenge of remaining globally competitive over the next 10-20 years and the skills required to meet those challenges. The Future Skills report shows the overwhelming concern of the threat from emerging economies, and the greatest need was for creative problem-solving as well as adaptability, communication and analytical skills – these are the skills for innovation.

Professor Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor, Kingston University

Professor Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor, Kingston University

With contributions from

Behind every successful business is a great idea; a desire to deliver a service or product or business architecture that's new, different or more effective than what's come before. Across all sectors, the essential ingredient in generating any good idea is a creative mind.

Rick Haythornthwaite, Chair, Ocado; Chair, Creative Industries Federation

Rick Haythornthwaite, Chair, Ocado; Chair, Creative Industries Federation

The UK is an unrivalled world leader in the creative industries, but international competitors are fast catching up.

Annie Warburton, Chief Executive, Cockpit Studios

Annie Warburton, Chief Executive, Cockpit Studios

Calls to action

To boost these skills across all parts of the UK is a team effort. One that can only be tackled by strong and active government embracing the instincts of the private sector and working with higher and further education providers to ensure a pipeline of home-grown talent. Read more about our asks here.


We call on Government to:

  • Invest in the skills for innovation the UK needs to support its future competitive advantage
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to convene key government departments ahead of the CSR to promote the skills for innovation we need to build back better
  • Department for Education (working with its equivalents in the devolved nations) to develop a Creative and Innovation Skills Strategy that identifies and promotes strategically important creative subjects and skills that businesses want
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to continue to support the Creative Careers Programme, and develop programmes in government to embed creative skills across departments

Sector regulators

We call on sector regulators to:

  • Define high value degrees by the skills for innovation students acquire and businesses say they want
  • Incentivise and reward provision of strategically important creative subjects that align with business skills needs
  • Develop a start-up metric that recognises skills for innovation rather than limited salary data that does not support entrepreneurship, start-ups or future skills


We call on employers to:

  • Recruit and reward applicants with the skills that are the foundation of the UK's competitiveness; the skills that drive the creative ideas and technologies that will shape the UK's high-growth, sustainable and secure economy
  • Develop graduate recruitment programmes with local and regional Higher Education Institutions to acquire graduates with the skills that drive innovation
  • Engage with opportunities to build future skills, such as the Department for Education's Bootcamps


We call on universities to:

  • Promote skills for innovation which are high value across their subject portfolios
  • Embed business and entrepreneurial skills in creative degree curricula
  • Entrench multi-faculty consultancy across the curriculum
  • Work with employers to deliver career opportunities that foster future-facing skills
  • Build partnerships with employers to foster creative approaches to problem solving, from hackathons to short courses and micro-credentials

TikTok has become a creative outlet so many have turned to during the pandemic, from artists and performers who have been able to share their voice, to museums and theatres who have been able to engage with audiences globally through the TikTok Community; supporting the creative industries is more important now than ever before.

Rich Waterworth, General Manager, TikTok, UK and Europe

Rich Waterworth, General Manager, TikTok, UK and Europe

Designers spend their lives solving problems. That's what the job is all about. Through their education and training they learn creative, critical and practical skills.

Sir John Sorrell CBE, Designer and UK Business Ambassador

Sir John Sorrell CBE, Designer and UK Business Ambassador

The Future Skills League Table

Kingston University's ‘Future Skills League Table' tells us what 2,000 employers across a range of sectors say are the skills they need to keep the UK globally competitive for the future.

Top 10 Future Skills as chosen by business

Interviews with businesses and universities highlighted over 20 skills that they felt were important in protecting the UK's global competitiveness. These were put to the YouGov Business panel, who selected the top 10:

  • Problem-solving – 77%
  • Communication – 66%
  • Critical thinking – 64%
  • Digital skills – 64%
  • Analytical skills – 63%
  • Initiative – 62%
  • Adaptability – 60%
  • Creativity – 56%
  • Relationship building – 55%
  • Questioning mindset – 55%

Download the Future Skills report

The UK economy future challenges

Businesses surveyed by YouGov® cited the following as top future challenges:

  • Competition from emerging economies e.g. China, Singapore – 56%
  • Tackling climate change – 45%
  • Attracting and retaining talent in the global marketplace – 42%
  • Need to increase productivity – 39%
  • Changes to freedom of movement/ mobility – 35%
  • Adapting to the rapid pace of change – 34%
  • Automation and AI – 34%

Download the Future Skills report

Case studies

Explore examples of how creative skills have led to business transformation, regional growth, and how it impacts on local communities. These case studies showcase the environment in which the rigour of creative problem solving prospers and helps grow new approaches, products, and industries.

Get in touch

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