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LABOR : Writing Skills Are Not the Strength of Job Applicants in O.C., Southland

March 18, 1994|Michael Flagg, Times staff writer

People who apply for a job in Orange County don't always write terribly well, a new survey says.

On the other hand, the employers who were questioned said their job applicants tend to be pretty good at using computers.

That's according to Thomas Temporaries, a temp firm that recently had 1,200 Southern California companies surveyed. Two hundred of the companies were in Orange County.

In fact, the survey found, companies all over Southern California had bad things to say about workers' writing skills.

About a third of them said job applicants' writing was below average or unsatisfactory. In Orange County, even more were unhappy with workers' writing skills--about 36%.

"In the 1980s," said Gene C. Wilson, Thomas Temporaries president, "there was a big push for employees to learn to use personal computers and basic office software, including word-processing programs.

"Now," he said, "it appears that employers are concerned with how well the material is written."

The largest bloc of Orange County employers--27%--rated the computer skills of their job applicants as above average or exceptional.

A quarter said telephone skills were above average or exceptional. Verbal skills were so rated by 18%.

But only 9% of the employers gave high marks to writing.

The survey also found that little more than a quarter of the Orange County companies train managers to deal with multiracial and multicultural work forces.

That, incidentally, was well below the estimate for Southern California as a whole--38%.

The survey did not attempt to explain why Orange County--which has relatively few African Americans but many Latinos and Asians--should lag the rest of the region.

But that may change, the survey said, because employers who train managers in leading diverse work forces give them a "competitive edge."

Orange County

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