Visual Literacy Resources & Toolkit

Visual Literacy and the Evolving Work Environment

The job market of the 21st century has evolved, and employers are increasingly seeking employees with a diverse array of skills. Visual literacy skills have become a highly desirable trait. Visual literacy skills enable people to better understand, critique, communicate, and contribute with their culture (Challons-Lipton & Emanuel, 2013). With the increased reliance on a strong virtual presence—including websites, social media, mobile apps, video, and other media—companies are on the lookout for individuals that are visually competent. A company’s web presence can convey a message that consists almost entirely of visual elements (Brumberger, 2005).

Businesses in the 21st century are increasingly seeking right brain thinkers, as modes of communication have shifted from text to websites and social media platforms. Current curricula standards may not adequately prepare students for the multiple forms of communication—including visual—that they are likely to encounter in tomorrow’s workplace (Brumberger, 2005). Suggested solutions include adding courses specifically designed to teach visual literacy, and integrate visual communication to a greater degree in existing courses and course projects (Brumberger. 2005).

There are three significant factors that have contributed to this evolutionary shift in the contemporary Western workforce: competition with inexpensive overseas labor, workers being replaced by automated computers and technology, and steady demand for products that enhance the meaning of our lives (Bodell, 2014). These factors have resulted in a rising need for skills that are difficult to outsource and cannot be reproduced by computers. This concept must be taken into consideration by higher educational administration, as prospective students—and the parents who fund their education—are focused on results-driven data when searching for a prospective school. As communication and creative problem solving are some of the top soft skills that employers are looking for in the evolving job market, grooming students with visual literacy programs is one way to meet this need.