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Survey Finds Writing is Key to Workplace Success

May 3 2005 - (MF) - Are you looking for the right skills to get ahead in your career? A recent survey of America's top businesses reveals that being able to write well is essential for success, especially in industries that will have the greatest growth in the future. The report from the National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges shows that poorly written job applications can be the kiss of death.

The survey also found that computer technology plays an important role in writing and the workplace.

"With the fast pace of today's electronic communications, one might think that the value of fundamental writing skills has diminished in the workplace," said Joseph M. Tucci, president and CEO of EMC Corporation. "Actually, the need to write clearly and quickly has never been more important than in today's highly competitive, technology-driven global economy."

The National Commission on Writing asked members of the Business Roundtable, a group of business leaders from more than 150 top American corporations, how important writing really is in the workplace. Half of the companies reported that they take writing into consideration when hiring. That figure jumped to 80 percent among the companies in the services and finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, or FIRE - the corporations with greatest employment growth potential.

"Applicants who provide poorly written letters wouldn't likely get an interview," one insurance executive explained.

Corporations spend more than $3 billion annually trying to improve employees' poor writing skills. Being able to write well may also help workers make the leap from hourly pay to professional, salaried positions. Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility, compared to smaller percentages among hourly employees.

"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 and chair of the commission.

The commission, a group of education and business leaders from across the country, is pushing for a stronger focus on the teaching of writing at all grade levels from kindergarten through college. This advice also applies to those who are already out of school.

"You're never too old to learn," Kerrey advises. "It's a skill that is acquirable."

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