The Richmond Register

March 3, 2013

Y cant we right?

By Jennifer Napier
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Did the title of the article catch your attention? The grammatical and spelling errors were created on purpose for this article, but unfortunately a growing number of available applicants for employment cannot demonstrate basic skills, such as reading comprehension and basic math, in order to obtain a job. Many may not even realize they lack these basic skills.

In an age of instant satisfaction and gratification, constantly changing hi-tech devices, and an expectation of increased results with fewer resources, our society has evolved and adapted into operating in a non-stop, fast-paced environment, which promotes time-saving short-cuts.

It may be fast and convenient to text someone, send an instant message, use emoticons in an email, or video call someone using FaceTime or Skype, but there is no excuse for allowing your basic skills in reading and math to fade. These skills are the foundation on which businesses grow and prosper.

You may think “What difference will it make if I’m off by one?” or “Who really cares if spelling errors occur - they can still figure out what I meant” or “I don’t need to know everything, that’s what calculators and computers are for” but have you really stopped to think about the full consequences of your actions? When an employee cannot comprehend a reading assignment or perform basic math skills, there are consequences. If businesses rely on their employees to read gauges, add or subtract fractions, convert measurements, adjust and read dials, write business letters, count money, etc., the consequences can be dangerous, if not deadly.

What if a factory hired an individual who turned out to have poor math skills? What if that employee were operating a piece of equipment that required precise measurements and math conversions to produce a safe product?

Do you want to be the first person to test drive a car that was made in a factory where the safety of the car was compromised because of an employee’s inaccurate measurements? Are you concerned about your health and safety after visiting a doctor who prescribed a medication?

Would you have your prescription filled at a pharmacy where a careless staff member incorrectly prints a label for your prescription bottle - doubling the amount of medicine your doctor told you to take? Would you be willing to learn how to scuba dive from an instructor who is careless about filling their oxygen tanks to meet mixture guidelines?

Would you ride in a crowded elevator whose weight capacity had been miscalculated? Are you satisfied with paying higher interest rates on loans and increased insurance premiums because of data entry errors made to your credit report by a third party?

The consequences of poor basic skills among the workforce are devastating to communities and leave our society with lasting scars that are very difficult to overcome. Education and basic skills improvements should be a lifelong pursuit and the priority of every successful job seeker.

Jennifer Napier is owner of Jennifer Napier Career Consulting in Richmond. Visit