Critical Communication Skills

Developing Course Competencies to Meet Workforce Needs


  • Mary Jae Kleckner University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point
  • C. R. Marshall University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point


Communication Skills, Workforce Needs, New Hires, Written Communication


Problem: Employers have consistently expressed concerns about communication skill deficits among new hires entering the workforce. This regionally-based study aimed to assess employer perceptions about communication skill deficits among new employees and compare those perceptions with those of business students and faculty.

Research Questions: In what ways do regional employer perceptions about the importance of various communication skills in the workplace differ from those of students and instructors? Which communication skills are perceived to be most important among area employers? To what extent are area employers satisfied with the communication skills of the recent business graduates they hire? Are there skill gaps that can be filled? Research

Method: We deployed three electronic surveys designed to measure which oral and written communication skills business students, business faculty, and local employers believe are most valued and vital to career success.

Data Collection Procedures and Analysis: We surveyed 292 undergraduate business, economics, and accounting majors and 19 full-time faculty members and 10 lecturers in the business department at a midsized public university in the Midwest. Five regional business associations were enlisted to distribute the employer version of the survey to members who work with, supervise, and/or evaluate one or more employees with baccalaureate business, economics, or accounting degrees.

Findings: We identified oral and written communication skills that regional employers most value, as well as those with which they are least satisfied. No statistically significant differences were found between the perceptions of undergraduate business students, business school faculty, and local employers regarding about which communication skills matter most.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Specific competencies employers reported as “most important” should be integrated into business communication curriculum and assessments to best meet employer needs. In addition, skills employers express strong dissatisfaction with should be given special emphasis in class materials, lessons, and assessments to help improve student competency in those areas before entering the workforce.


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How to Cite

Kleckner, M. J., & Marshall, C. R. (2023). Critical Communication Skills: Developing Course Competencies to Meet Workforce Needs. Journal of Research In Business Education, 56(2), 59-81.

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