During the uncertain times of a pandemic, new problems can arise that demand new solutions.

Young learners are recognising this and want to see innovation to be taught in schools.

Te Ririu Williams, a 21-year-old weaver from Rotorua, wishes that innovation had been taught while she was at school. 

“I feel like it would give people more confidence in new ideas, keeping the good things from our past alive, but moving forward to a more sustainable future,” Te Ririu (Te Arawa/Te Rarawa) says. 

Te Ririu Williams says she wishes she had learnt about innovation in high school. Photo: Supplied

“Young people have a fresh perspective on things and can offer new solutions.”

Hope Waaka (Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāpuhi), this year’s deputy head girl at Rotorua Girls’ High School, agrees. 

“I feel like innovation was kind of pushed to the side for us, I think it should have been taught more and should be part of our education,” she says. 

Now finished with her last year of high school, the 18-year-old says she hopes to see innovation become embraced more in schools.

Hope Waaka (Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāpuhi), this year’s deputy head girl at Rotorua Girls’ High School, says learning innovation will give students confidence with their ideas. Photo: Supplied 

“Innovation can help our rangatahi and students within school because it would give them the confidence and knowledge to offer up new ideas and solutions to the problems we are facing while living with Covid-19.”

Te Ririu and Hope are not alone — recent research shows that 96 percent of Gen Zers want the topic to be taught in schools. 

The research, done by Creative HQ, a provider of innovation programmes for startups, corporates and government, involved interviewing 150 Gen Zers from 20 countries. 

The research was shared around December 13 at the Expo 2020 in Dubai by Creative HQ’s head of the school of innovation, Dr Colin Kennedy. 

As part of the research, Gen Z participants were asked questions on what they think innovation is. 

The most mentioned sectors where Gen Zers thought there was a lot of innovation were medical advancements and Covid-19 response, Kennedy says. 

Gen Zers also associated the internet and smartphones, electric vehicles including self-driving cars, community interventions, agritech and personal self-improvement as strong types of innovation.

Kennedy says 77 percent of respondents believe they are innovative and 89 percent of rangatahi also believe innovation is critical when it comes to improving the world around them.

And 94 percent thought the role of innovation was important in responding to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Kennedy says.

"In this complex time of volatility, it’s a statement of hope that Gen Z wants the tools of innovation embedded in their learning environment."

Gen Z makes up a third of the global population and their desire to be innovative is crucial as “it indicates they crave the mindset and skill set to take on the problems around them”, Kennedy says.

“Gen Z will feel the pain of Covid-19 throughout the majority of their lives. This research shows that innovation is a tool for them to create a better future for their generation." 

“Right now, we need our younger generations to have hope and opportunities," Kennedy says. 

"Innovation can offer this to young people.”

Top Image: a portrait of a business team sitting on the floor. Photo: FG Trade/iStock

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