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Bailey unveils results of Michigan business survey

June 1, 2006

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich.--Acting as spokesperson and advocate for Michigan's Your Child Coalition, Western Michigan University President Judith I. Bailey today unveiled the results of a statewide survey detailing the education views of Michigan's business community.

Speaking to a session of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference under way on Mackinac Island, Bailey shared details of the latest Your Child study of 850 Michigan businesses. Completed just over a week ago by Lansing polling firm EPIC-MRA, the survey showed that Michigan businesses need to do more to build an education culture in Michigan. Some of the study's findings include:

Michigan employers are dissatisfied with Michigan's schools, but those most vocal about their dissatisfaction are least likely to demand advanced educational credentials from prospective employees.

Michigan businesses do place a higher value on education than do Michigan families, with 60 percent of business respondents saying everyone should get an education beyond high school.

Employees with the lowest level of education have the least job security. Those with only a high school degree are about six times as vulnerable to layoffs as those with college degrees.

Even though business associations pushed hard for the state's rigorous new high school graduation requirements, support for those standards is just lukewarm among Michigan businesses.

Michigan employers are unlikely to help push employees toward educational achievement. Only half (51 percent) expect to spend any money on employee education or training during the coming year.

"Michigan businesses can do so much more to develop the kind of workforce we need to thrive in the knowledge economy," Bailey said. "Business must not only demand high standards of K-12 schools, colleges and universities, business must uphold those standards in hiring and supporting its workforce."

Bailey unveiled the Your Child survey during a panel presentation titled "Competing in a Flat World - Getting Michigan Ready for a High Skill/High Wage Economy." Panelists included Robert T. Jones, co-author of "The Job Revolution: Changing How America Works"; Mike Schmidt, director of education and community development for Ford Motor Co.; and Moderator Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News.

Your Child is a coalition of Michigan-based education and family organization that examines the factors that contribute to or stand in the way of Michigan's children being successful in their academic careers. The coalition is out to build public awareness about these factors, strengthen the state's culture of education, spark community conversations about education and increase citizen commitment to education.

For complete details of the study, go online to www.epicmra.com or contact Ed Sarpolus, vice president of EPIC-MRA at (517) 331-3313 or Margaret Trimer-Hartley, coordinator of Your Child, at (517) 204-0963.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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