According to national surveys, employers want to hire college graduates who can write coherently, think creatively and analyze quantitative data. But the Conference Board has found in its surveys of corporate hiring leaders that writing skill is one of the biggest gaps in workplace readiness.
Many employers now explicitly ask for writing and communications skills in their job advertisements. An analysis by Burning Glass Technologies, which studies job trends in real time by mining data from employment ads, found that writing and communications are the most requested job requirements across nearly every industry, even fields such as information technology and engineering.
“My students can’t write a clear sentence to save their lives, and I’ve had it,” Joseph R. Teller, an English professor at College of the Sequoias, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the fall. “In 10 years of teaching writing, I have experimented with different assignments, activities, readings, approaches to commenting on student work — you name it — all to help students write coherent prose that someone would actually want to read. And as anyone who keeps up with trends in higher education knows, such efforts largely fail.”
Good writing takes practice, and it seems that many college students, especially outside of writing-intensive liberal arts majors, are just not being asked to write often enough.
One study that tracked more than 2,000 students at four-year colleges found that among those who graduated on time, exactly half said they took five or fewer courses that required at least 20 pages of writing.
Extensive writing is rarely assigned in many college courses because it’s labor-intensive, raising the workload for students and professors, according to an article in The Washington Post. Students don’t understand why they need to write five-page papers, let alone 20 pages, given that many of them won’t write much more than PowerPoint slides, emails, or one-page memos once in the workplace, according to the article.
Source: Washington Post