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Good communications skills are essential for all graduates and for engineers, highly developed communication skills are essential in professional roles. Engineers need complex communication skills to process common workplace documentation such as: letters, faxes, memos; drawings; trade literature; minutes of meetings; technical reports; commercial documents; management reports; proposals; bids/tenders; purchase orders; manuals and presentations (McGregor 2000).
Equally, verbal communication plays a pivotal role in the workplace. Verbal communication may include: the ability to liaise with colleagues (technical and non-technical) within the various levels of an organisation and beyond; the ability to issue and interpret clear and accurate instructions; give professional presentations; negotiate; resolve conflict and exchange ideas with engineers and others within the workforce (McGregor 2000). Furthermore, globalisation has led to the need for many professionals, including engineers, to adopt a communication style that is appropriate in a global workforce.
Throughout their degree, engineers can expect to develop the communication skills needed to make the transition from student to professional and an individual can further hone these skills through other work/life experiences. Students should consider the benefits of part-time employment, volunteering, internships and work experience, team sports, clubs and societies when seeking additional opportunities to develop good communication skills that will be transferrable into professional roles.
Reference: McGregor H. (2000). Engineers at work: Developing communication skills for professional practice. In Proceedings of the Society for Technical Communication Conference. Orlando, FL: Society for Technical Communication.