Capital Region business leaders say about two-thirds of their job applicants have fair or poor verbal and writing skills. Just one percent, they say, are excellent. This revelation (and others) “bolsters the concern of the skills gap in the community,” said Michael Tucker, a top area voice on the economy, speaking to the Business Review.
A new Siena Research Institute survey of area business executives indicates good communication is lacking in the “communication century.” Though we are consuming information at an unprecedented rate, our ability to make the most of the Internet age needs vast improvement.
This problem can be fixed. First, our schools have to regain their focus on the basics, writing and speaking. Too often, our schools are tugs of war over social engineering and advocacy. How many stories have you seen on bullying in the news? How many have you seen on poor writing skills? That’s not to suggest bullying is acceptable, it isn’t, but more emphasis is needed on core skills.
Recently, a college student of mine complained because I took points off her writing assignment for poor grammar. “You didn’t say that would count,” she protested.
Second, we need to lead by example. In fact, the press release (see below) announcing this survey presents an enormous “improvement opportunity” — a product of poor clarity, graphically challenged and real work just to read.
Business leaders should consider more investment in communication training, for themselves and their team. I’ve seen many senior executives perform ineffectively when given the luxury of a large audience. We must see attention as a commodity, especially today.
Technology has given us a wonderful set of tools to communicate, but being interesting is a skill. All of us play a role in enhancing the skills needed for a stronger economy and a better society.
The writer is an award-winning communications trainer and a longtime adjunct media professor.