Friday, October 06, 2006
Literacy: A Lost Art?
Some years ago, I came across a website about someone named George who did tech support. I do tech support and since my job is to take escalations from the people who answer the phones, I sometimes would get frustrated by the cases escalated to me. They don’t always contain the information I need. Sometimes basic troubleshooting steps are left undone, especially if it is a newer person answering the phone. I always loved the George website because I could always take comfort in knowing that no matter how badly I had it, no one I worked with was as bad as George. Because while sometimes people might be lacking in technical knowledge or might not have basic troubleshooting skills, at least they were literate and I could understand them.
No so anymore. I don’t know where some of these people have come from but I am constantly amazed at the cases that get escalated to me. We have not one “George” either but at least a half a dozen of them, not counting the two people for whom English is a second language. I mean seriously, these people are functionally illiterate. They cannot spell. They cannot write in complete sentences. They cannot figure out even the most basic things. In fact, they are so bad that when I recently visited the George website because they reminded me of it so much, I realized that George would be an improvement!
Now I realize that my bad habit of not editing my own posts on this blog really means that I shouldnt be shaking the grammar and spelling stick at anyone else. I am often sloppy and lazy in my writing. And yet people seem to understand what I write for the most part. These people at work are beyond terrible.
It makes me wonder about the current labor market. I mean Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. While the entry level tech support jobs don’t pay especially well, they pay a lot better than places like WalMart or McDonalds. One would think that basic writing skills would not be too difficult to find. But apparently that is not the case. Still it has me wondering about the labor market in my area. Is there a shortage of people with a basic education? Is this some kind of fluke or a sign of a larger problem?