Research by Sandra Barnett & Susan O’Rourke, published in the December 2010 issue of the Communication Journal of New Zealand, shows that although employers want graduates skilled in communication, business communication is compulsory in only 50% of Business degrees from major NZ tertiary education institutions. On top of that, it’s very difficult for employers to gauge what graduates may have gained from any communication courses that they did complete.

In contrast to USA & Europe, New Zealand undergraduate business education grew largely out of the accountancy field. As a result most Bachelors of Commerce have not included business communication. It has long been included in the NZ Diploma of Business but focused on skills seen as appropriate to the relatively narrow requirements of the accounting profession rather than to business in the wider sense.

With recent writers in the business management field calling for a transformation in management and organisational communication (see Stephen Denning, The death & reinvention of management. Nov 2010) it seems clear that a transformation in communication education is overdue.

Steve Barnett issued a challenge to communication educators at the December 2010 annual conference of the New Zealand Communication Association, to transform the way they organise and do communication education. Actually he challenges them to transform the way that business education generally is organised and done. Read his challenge here: Wanted: communication educators for management revolution.