Critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills are necessary for Cincinnati's workforce. In fact, LinkedIn's VP for Talent and Learning Solutions, Asia Pacific, Feon Ang recently flagged these skills as one of five that are lacking globally. In rolling out their "Future of Skills" research report, he noted that concepts like creative problem-solving are imperative as the workforce continues to rapidly change through technological impacts.

LinkedIn's assessment is not alone. Adobe recently published worldwide research revealing that 86% of educators and 85% of policymakers believe students with creative problem-solving skills will be the ones who get the high-earning jobs.

ArtsWave, the engine for the Greater Cincinnati’s arts, funded more than 410,000 arts education experiences last year for the region's youth. This includes experiences happening at every one of Cincinnati Public Schools and arts that spanned a dozen counties throughout the region.

While these arts experiences include everything from arts in the classroom to performances at the school, they also include a variety of non-traditional programs that focus on creative thinking and problem solving.

One of those nontraditional programs is the Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios (CATS). Through multiple project grants, ArtsWave has been able to support what CATS aims to accomplish with Cincinnati Public School students who are close to graduating but have a remaining elective or fine arts credit needed to complete their diploma.

CATS offers a set of studio classes. This includes digital multimedia classes where kids learn audio, photo and video production. CATS teaches both two-dimensional classes covering drawing, painting and other visual arts and three-dimensional arts that cover clay, glass and other sculptural and functional arts working in multiple types of media. They also offer classes in ceramics and stained glass.

CATS has branched into workforce development through an 18-month workforce program, Bridging the Gap. They've cultivated partnerships with a handful of Cincinnati employers and organizations so that students graduate from high school with employable skills that they can immediately use.

According to CATS' data, 89% of those who begin a job after school as part of this program are employed a year later, illustrating how the arts are able to deepen roots. Working with Cincinnati Educational Television (CET), ArtsWave created a video (above) to summarize what CATS is doing to fuel creativity and learning while deepening roots in the region.

Employers like PNC, one of CATS' Bridging the Gap partners, know how important it is to find and keep talented workers who have creative solving expertise. Sarah Broman, PNC’s Retail Banking Market Manager, noted that "Bridging the Gap has become a valuable way that PNC is attracting and growing our talent pool of creative problem solvers locally through skills-based arts training."