Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 425–435 | Cite as

Meeting the Demands of the Workplace: Science Students and Written Skills

  • F. Elizabeth Gray
  • Lisa Emerson
  • Bruce MacKay


Over the last 15 years, surveys in a range of English-speaking countries, from North America and the United Kingdom, to New Zealand and Australia, have consistently shown that employers rank oral and written communication skills as highly as or more highly than any technical or quantitative skills. However, in New Zealand there has been very little research into determining exactly what is meant by the “written communication skills” employers state they desire. A further issue in this research to date has been a lack of differentiation between employers—no study has specifically targeted the requirements of employers of science graduates. This article reports the findings of ongoing research into the expectations of science students and of employers of science graduates, and centers around several key questions:
  • What do New Zealand employers of science graduates specifically want in terms of their new hires' writing skills?

  • How can information gained from employers of science graduates be used to motivate science students to take seriously the need to develop their writing skills?

  • How can writing programs be evaluated and developed to help science students acquire communication skills that are important for their future learning and for their employment and promotion prospects?

Findings are compared with the findings of the 2004 National Commission on Writing's survey of American businesses.

Key Words

written skills science education college workplace 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Elizabeth Gray
    • 1
  • Lisa Emerson
    • 1
  • Bruce MacKay
    • 2
  1. 1.School of English and Media StudiesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of Natural ResourcesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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