The newest AAC&U employer poll will be released next week, and the AAC&U has said that written and oral communication will, for the first time, surpass collaboration as the skill most desired by employers.
What I would love to see teased out, though, is what kind of writing employers (and students!) want. I’ve never been docked at my job for improper MLA citation. I have, at times, been accused of being too academic in tone.
So much of academic writing is driven by the need to be perfectly precise, rather than concise and clear, because the medium through which reputations are built — the academic journal — is profoundly non-conversational. Or rather, journal articles are written in precisely the way that conversations would happen if there were 18 months in between conversational turns.
I’d argue that the writing students need, both for employment and personal empowerment, has to be more conversational than that. And while that has always been true, in an age where mass communication is giving way to mass conversation, the need for such conversational skill has never been more pressing.