A 2015 survey of UK bosses employing collectively more than 1.2 million people, conducted for business lobby group CBI, found that 37% of employers were dissatisfied with standards of literacy and use of English among university and school leavers.
“It would be a mistake to tell young people that spelling doesn’t matter in this industry, or in this occupation, because those basic skills are a real gateway to other roles or to developing other skills,” says Pippa Morgan, the CBI’s head of education and skills.
Spelling skills are required more than ever, she says. “If you’re dealing with customer service enquiries via Twitter, that might be the one interaction customers have with that company and so the quality of that message, the use of language, is really, really important. It might be just as important as a friendly face in a store or voice over a phone,” says Morgan.
When it’s OK to vary spelling
Sometimes though, incorrect spelling, abbreviations or shortening of words is OK. “We for example use ‘biz’ in our tweeting as shorthand for business,” Morgan says.
And in some contexts, informal language is required. “If you send an email to a 21-year-old vice president that says ‘Dear Mr Jones’ and you’re using overly formal diction, that could be a problem,” says Trubek.