CPIT graduates meet demand for 'plain English' writers

CPIT graduates meet demand for 'plain English' writers

Understanding how to communicate complex information successfully is proving to be an increasingly vital skill in today's digital world.

This need is being recognised and met through CPIT's online Graduate Diploma of Information Design (GDID) programme, which turns out work-ready technical communicators who can produce documentation that helps people use a product or service.

While many companies employ their own technical writers, Christchurch-based business Streamliners provides technical writing services for clients throughout Australasia.

Streamliners partner Emma Harding said the number of technical communicators the company employs had quadrupled since 2012, and the ones with a GDID qualification had doubled. The company now employs 26 technical writers and is still growing.

"There's always been a strong demand for well-written, user-focused software and hardware instructions, policies and procedures, and web content. Technical writing has been an established profession in the US for many years. Awareness that creating quality content is a profession, with its own body of knowledge, is slowly growing in New Zealand too. "

Harding, who is also the Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand president and a GDID advisor, says knowledge and information "is the currency of the world". She says the CPIT course teaches students what to do with information: how to find it, write and edit it, manage and design it, and ensure that the people who need it can understand it, in plain language.

"Anyone who presses F1 on their computer is interacting with technical writing; it's like oxygen. You breathe it and you don't know it."

To help meet the massive demand, Harding took on CPIT graduate Rob Grover as a technical writer, last year.

Before Grover started the GDID programme, he didn't know what a technical writer was. "People generally don't know what technical writers do, but like the functions on the computer, they provide factual or instructional writing, in the simplest way possible."

CPIT's online Graduate Diploma of Information Design equipped Rob Glover with sought-after skills for the communications industry and led to employment with Christchurch-based business Streamliners.  

The 28 year-old has a musical background but had always been interested in pursuing a writing career.

"I looked at writing jobs but they all required qualifications. So I looked at graduate courses and saw the GDID. I could see it was a more technical qualification that would lead into a job. I really liked the flexibility of an online course, which was a good fit for me."

The only offline element of Grover's programme was his internship, which he did with SCIRT, the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team, responsible for rebuilding Christchurch's infrastructure after the 2010-2011 earthquakes.

Grover is currently involved in writing information for a health information website and producing an online manual for GPs about how to access services in their region.

"It's challenging and satisfying work, and a detailed, focused job. It's an interesting industry to be in, and one that is very wide open in terms of where you can go with it."

Find out more about the Graduate Diploma of Information Design.