Why Writing Skills Matter Inside and Outside Classroom Walls
“Why do I need to know this?” is a common refrain from students. Whether they’ve been asked to read Shakespeare, write a literary analysis essay, or compose a research paper, they want to know how and why assignments are relevant to their lives.
Luckily, when it comes to writing, English teachers have an answer.
For almost any career, students will need to write well. Sure, they might not have to write essays or craft short stories, but they’ll need to communicate in writing. And they’ll need to do so intelligently and effectively.
The next time a student asks you, “Why do I need to know this?” here are a few answers you can provide.
In the modern workplace, written communication is key. Employees write reports, emails to coworkers and bosses, and messages to clients.
The ability to communicate clearly and professionally is essential. Sending unprofessional, poorly worded, or grammatically flawed emails to customers can tarnish a company’s brand. And it’s certainly not a good idea to communicate with a boss or company executive poorly either.
For students who are most comfortable communicating in text messages, witty photo captions, and brief statuses or tweets, it’s easy to write too informally. Even in essays, you may notice students using slang, multiple exclamation points, or other overly casual wording.
Academic writing helps students master writing with formal diction and tone. They also learn to balance this formal writing with an engaging voice, which is the perfect way to communicate in the workplace.
For most careers, a resume is required to get your foot in the door. If that resume is littered with grammar mistakes, poor spelling, or a lack of clarity, it’s unlikely to unlock any opportunities.
Are They Really Ready To Work? | Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce, a survey led by The Conference Board (a non-profit research organization), revealed the following:
"Written Communications—47.3 percent and 27.8 percent of employer respondents, respectively, report new entrants with two-year and four-year college diplomas as 'deficient.' Almost three-quarters of the employer respondents (71.5 percent) say Written Communications is 'very important' for two-year college graduates. For four-year college graduates, 93.1 percent say Written Communications is 'very important.'”
Nearly half of hiring managers take writing ability into consideration when hiring, making the evaluation of a candidate's writing a crucial step during the hiring process. This assessment is starts with the candidate's resume, but some companies are now requiring a writing exercise as part of the interview process.
When students write in your classroom, they’re learning how to use proper grammar. They’re gaining the ability to write clearly and concisely. They’re providing evidence to support their points (like, “I’m well-qualified for this job”).
They may not realize it yet, but these same skills can help them make a good first impression as they seek a career in the future.
Employers Want Good Writers
Perhaps most importantly, employers are actively seeking good writers. The College Board found that major corporations are spending about $3.1 billion annually in remedial writing training. Of course, this provides an incentive to hire better writers.
A 2016 survey by PayScale of over 63,000 managers indicated that the “hard skill” recent college graduates are most lacking in is writing proficiency. Among soft skills, managers felt that new employees were most lacking in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are also developed through writing.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers want candidates with strong writing skills. “Strong written communication skills” was the third most-desired quality overall, just behind leadership and teamwork.
Jason Fried, founder of the project management software company Basecamp, says, “If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer…Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate…Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”
In fact, English and Communications majors are on the rise as favored candidates due to the increasing importance of written communication in the workplace.
If your students want to impress future employers, honing their writing skills is one sure way to do so.
Writing Skills Really Do Matter!
Today, written communication is a more valuable skill than ever before. Employers have noticed that recent college graduates lack this essential ability, and they’re intentionally seeking stronger writers during the hiring process.
Academic writing has a lot in common with professional writing. It’s formal, it requires students to clearly express and support their ideas, and it’s tailored to a specific purpose and audience.
The more students practice writing in school, the more desirable they’ll be as future hires, and the better they’ll communicate in their careers.
So you can confidently tell your students that yes, they do need to know this.
Help your students grow as writers by assessing their work faster—and giving them access to WriteLab's AI feedback.