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Meet Phil Blair, one of San Diego’s most successful businesspeople. He’s president of Manpower San Diego, which links job seekers to employers, and author of the new book “Job Won!” about how to succeed in the job market.

Blair currently serves on the board of directors for several regional organizations including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; LEAD San Diego; the United Way, and the San Diego Convention Center.

He’s a big fan of literacy and a top supporter of the San Diego Council on Literacy.

How come?

Because literacy is crucial to the workforce

“Literacy is important for everybody,” Blair says. “We’ve been a big supporter of the cause for years because it’s so important. You need to be literate to advance in this world, and not being able to communicate makes it very tough to get ahead.”

According to national statistics, 44 million adults in the United States are unable to read a simple story to their children because they lack literacy skills.

Here, a tutor and student work at the San Diego Public Library via the READ/San Diego adult literacy program.

For adults who struggle with reading, even job applications are obstacles

Twenty percent of people in the U.S. lack enough reading skills to hold down a job with a living wage.

“In the old days, someone might come in and apply for work, and their 12-year-old would fill out the application on paper because mom or dad wasn’t literate,” Blair says. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Unfortunately, applicants with limited literacy skills often fail to land jobs. “We aren’t comfortable sending people to a work site who couldn’t read warning signs or communicate well in an emergency,” Blair says.

Many literary learners have limited English skills, like these women who received assistance via the International Rescue Committee

Literacy improves communication overall.

“Eighty percent of jobs in this current market are found through networking,” Blair says. “You’ve got to be able to communicate well and be comfortable going through job interviews, attending job fairs, and making connections through social media.”

Blair’s company, Manpower, is all about helping employers and employees find each other, so he knows more about this topic than most.

Literacy efforts begin at a young age through the Reach Out and Read program, which teaches parents that reading to their children is crucial.

SD Council on Literacy provides keys to success

Thanks to the San Diego Council on Literacy, 26 affiliated literacy programs provided literacy assistance to more than 170,000 people of all ages at no cost in 2012. The council provides a variety of services to its affiliated programs, including advocacy, planning and coordination, financial assistance, technology support and much more. The council also manages a special literacy program to help people better understand the world of health and medicine.

Blair puts it best: “We all need each other in this world.”

A volunteer reads to children at a low-income housing complex through the Community HousingWorks program.

Eat. Drink. Read: A Party to Celebrate Literacy

The San Diego Council on Literacy is a nonprofit that relies on the support of volunteer donors. Help support local literacy programs by joining Voice of San Diego at Point Loma’s Liberty Station from 5:30-8 p.m. on May 14, 2014, for Eat. Drink. Read., an extraordinary culinary event to benefit literacy efforts throughout San Diego County.

Local chefs will offer unique dishes inspired by their favorite book as guests sip spirits, enjoy beer pairings, meet local food & brew stars, and support the San Diego Council on Literacy’s ongoing efforts to enrich education in our community. Don’t miss the culinary event of the season!

Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis will be one of the evening’s emcees and Morning Report scribe Randy Dotinga will host the Brews & News Trivia Pub. Test your news knowledge while raising money for a worthy cause.

Like San Diego Council on Literacy on Facebook

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