How to Become a Smarter Writer by Solving Word Puzzles

Which skills are most in demand to meet the challenges of the 21st century?

Trending news reports have led many people to assume that business, government, and nonprofit organizations are primarily interested in hiring and promoting employees with backgrounds in the STEM disciplines. Without question, opportunities for aerospace engineers, computer programmers, physicists, and data analysts will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

But in surveys conducted since the 1990s by the National Association of Colleges and
Employers (NACE), communication skills — clear writing and speaking — have been at or
near the top of the list of capabilities that employers value most. In the 2005 survey, for
example, employers ranked communication skills (verbal and written) as more important
than analytical skills, computer skills, GPA, and creativity. Unfortunately, “the number one
skill that employers say they want … is the very skill they most often say candidates lack.
Many respondents reported that college graduates lack good grammar and writing skills.”

In the NACE’s 2020 survey, researchers found that an enormous gap remained between
employers’ needs (“considered essential”) and graduates’ lackluster performance
(“considered proficient’).

The colleges, of course, have consistently blamed the K-12 teachers. What has been
widely misunderstood by educators at all levels, from grade school through graduate
school, is how the nature of work has changed since the dawning of the Age of the
Internet. Today, regardless of their job titles, professionals in the workplace are
spending most of their day engaged in fundamental literacy activities. They are sitting
in front of their computers, reading and writing all day long. For those workers, writing is
not an academic exercise. It’s their job.

The kind of writing that business, government, and nonprofit organizations need has
nothing to do with self-expression or creativity or displaying an extensive vocabulary. They
need people who have learned how to translate good ideas into plain English: clear,
direct, grammatical sentences and well-organized paragraphs that are easy to follow.

The free 90-minute online class is a lively, interactive introduction to understanding
how the English language works. We will begin by taking a close look at the four
fundamental sentence patterns that skilled professional writers and editors in the
publishing industry rely on to communicate clearly with their readers. Participants will
learn how to treat sentences as word puzzles — and how to solve writing problems
by putting the pieces together. 

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