Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Employers Reject Four out of 10 Job Applications Because of Spelling and Grammar Howlers; ILLITERACY IN LONDON

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Employers Reject Four out of 10 Job Applications Because of Spelling and Grammar Howlers; ILLITERACY IN LONDON

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn and Nicholas Cecil

MAJOR London businesses throw four out of 10 job applications in the bin because they are so littered with spelling and grammatical errors, the Standard has learned.

The shock finding came as Work Secretary Iain Duncan Smith warned that failing to learn to read or write can lead to a life on benefit, falling into the hands of ruthless loan sharks and a "cycle of despair" which may end with living on the streets.

The Cabinet minister, who set up the Centre for Social Justice, told how he had personally seen many cases where youngsters had their lives blighted by poor education leaving them unable to find a job.

"Far too many young people have been failed by the education system and the effect that has on the rest of their lives can be devastating," he said. "Literacy skills are absolutely vital to getting into employment and staying there. Education is the cornerstone of success or failure." In London, employers are spending tens of millions of pounds a year to equip recruits with the literacy skills they should be learning at school.

James Fothergill, head of educational skills at the CBI, the business group, said many of its members complained about staff who are "unable to read, understand and act on basic information". Employers fear the problem is getting worse as a new generation of pupils is educated by teachers who grew up with texting and emails. Mr Fothergill said employers were not persuaded by the argument that the "txt generation" should not be judged by grammatical standards that were the norm 20 years ago. He said: "To be frank the clue is in the message. These are basis skills and it would be very risky indeed to start accepting a poorer standard." Research from the Every Child a Chance Trust, which has received [pounds sterling]5 million in support from the business community, suggests that employees starting their careers with low literacy skills were unlikely ever to get off the bottom rung of the ladder. …

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