I don’t have 2011 reports, but reports from 2005 show that companies and government entities lost nearly a half-million dollars on poor writing skills annually. A half-million? Now, multiply that amount by hundreds, possibly thousands of companies, and that rings up to a big loss for companies. They not only lose financially; they lose time and productivity. That sounds like billions of dollars.
And like the image above, there is a big hole in the United States’ education system that is costing companies even more money. But know that poor writing is not just felt by organizations and government entities. The United States is losing its strength as a global competitive force.
Writing impacts all areas of people lives. However, there is little emphasis placed on writing in many school systems. There is now an emphasis on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). Please help me understand: if people have not gained an understanding of reading and writing, how then, can they really grasp STEM? And if these foundational skills are not taught and practiced effectively in grade school, these people will go through their lives with these deficiencies, which are costing employers and educators billions of dollars.
So, what’s the solution? How can employers save money and how can students be prepared in their early stages? According to my research, there are three possibilities:
- Teacher development. Instructors in all disciplines should know how to write and include writing in their instruction, not just English teachers. This should become a priority effective immediately.
- A designated writing coach at schools. Many schools have reading coaches; writing coaches should also be hired. Isn’t busting your budget for a writing instructor who can with reading, writing, comprehension and critical thinking worth the sacrifice?
- Include writing as a requirement for teachers to get their degrees. This should still keep them on their 4 – 5 year plan depending on their major and minor selections.
Why all the emphasis on teachers? Because if they can’t write, then their students are not going to know how to write. They cannot teach what they don’t know. And they definitely won’t focus on things they don’t like, even if they are sorely needed.
Essentially, these investments at the school level in the short-term would save companies a whole lot of money in the long-term. In fact, the billions of dollars saved could be used to invest in the new generation of leaders that will help position the United States as a fierce global competitor.
What are your thoughts? What are other costs of poor writing skills?