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NYT: Making New Graduates Employable!

In a NYT article of June 29, 2013, a recent report on employment from researchers at USC was quoted as follows: “When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving,” the report said.

As an English and writing teacher, I found the part about "written communication skills" to be especially pertinent. It's what I teach-- to Silicon Valley engineers with advanced degrees, to high school students, to law students, and graduate students working on their thesis. It is a critical skill, hard to learn, hard to teach, but necessary. It is also most students' least favorite subject, one that makes them nervous to the point of tears sometimes, one that they can't understand why they need it, because unfortunately what they practice in school isn't much related to what happens on the job. It's only when I tutor a business person or technical professional, who IS at work and whose lack of writing skills are apparent, that my message of clear communication becomes understandable. It's too bad so many people have to wait until that point to really value clear writing.

Parents, do you want to show your teenager that writing is valuable? Then set an example: show them you read, and write, on your job. Bring reading into the home (not TV or cell phones). Discuss writing with them in an encouraging way. College students, do you feel the classroom writing you are assigned is boring and pointless? It might be menial, but it is your means to become employable. Learn it well, even if you must find the library's tutoring center or pay a private tutor to help you. Everyone can learn-- it might not be fun, easy, or fast, but you can learn with practice.