Sept. 20, 2004--In its National Commission on Writing report, the College Board found that in today's high-tech economy filled with e-mail, reports and presentations, two-thirds of the country's salaried employees are required to write as part of their jobs. Its conclusion? People who cannot write and communicate well will not be hired or perform well enough to receive promotions.
"People unable to express themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities for professional, salaried employment," said Bob Kerrey, president of New School University in New York City and chair of the Commission. The commission surveyed 64 members of the Business Roundtable, a blue-ribbon group of the nation's leading executives, as a follow up to their pronouncement last year that "writing is the neglected 'R' in school reform." The group concluded that because schools fail to teach students the third 'R,' corporations are forced to spend a collective $3.1 billion every year to try and improve their employees' writing skills.
"While trying to improve math, science and technology in our schools, we've neglected writing," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. "Writing is a fundamental professional skill. Most of the new jobs in the years ahead will emphasize writing."
The study also found that writing isn't just limited to salaried employees. "Hourly" workers also need to develop writing skills because of the widespread use of e-mail, where accuracy, clarity, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and conciseness are critical to effective communication.
"This survey confirms everything we believe about the ability to present oneself persuasively and articulately on paper is a big part of individual opportunity in the United States," Kerrey said.
DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.
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