ISU Study Finds Oral Communication as Top Skill Sought by Employers

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Tina Coffelt, ISU Assistant Professor in English and Communication Studies (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

Tina Coffelt, ISU Assistant Professor in English and Communication Studies, authored a study on what employers seek in new college grads.  (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

AMES, Iowa — A new study by Iowa State University has found the number one skill sought by employers of new college grads is verbal communication.

“We’ve been interested in workplace communication skills, and what that means to employers,” said Tina Coffelt, Assistant Professor in English and Communications studies at Iowa State University. “I think people in higher education have an understanding, employers have an understanding, and I’m really interested to find out if we mean the same thing.”

When it comes to electronic communications, “employers most often mean email,” said Coffelt.

She said oral communication ranks high with employers, as it covers a broad range of skill.

“We do a lot of oral communication, and we do it without realizing we’re doing it,” said Coffelt. “We interact with each other personally, we give presentations, even listening is part of our oral communication.”

This information is helping Iowa State and other universities shift how they teach communication skills. It used to be you could break it down to speech class or writing class. Now ISU is shifting to a multi-model system of teaching, where the skills would be integrated at the same time.

The study contacted 52 employers in different fields, including business, engineering, health sciences, and social work. The study found employers identifying 165 communication skills.

“Really separating writing, and oral communication, and social media, is really becoming more and more challenging because so many of the concepts interweave, regardless of the mode with which we communicate,” said Coffelt.

For more information on the study click here.