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MICHIGAN BUSINESSES DISSATISFIED WITH GRADUATES: Survey Stresses Importance of Continued Education After High School

“Michigan businesses can do so much more to develop the kind of workforce we need to thrive in the knowledge economy,” said Judith Bailey

Only slightly more than half of Michigan businesses are satisfied with the quality of employees that come out of Michigan’s high schools, colleges, and universities, according to a new survey by EPIC-MRA conducted for the Your Child coalition and The Detroit News. The survey also criticized Michigan employers for demanding top-flight graduates but hiring low-skilled workers and complaining about their lack of qualifications and workforce readiness.

“Michigan businesses can do so much more to develop the kind of workforce we need to thrive in the knowledge economy,” said Judith Bailey, president of Western Michigan University and spokesperson for Your Child. “Businesses must not only demand high standards of K–12 schools, colleges and universities, [but] businesses must [also] uphold those standards in hiring and supporting its workforce.”

The survey finds that only 53% of 850 businesses in Michigan were satisfied with the quality of workers who come from Michigan’s high schools and colleges, with 21% saying they were “very satisfied” and 32% “somewhat satisfied.” On the other hand, 40% said they were dissatisfied with the quality of workers. According to the survey, the employers who were most vocal about a lack of quality among workers were also the ones most likely to hire minimally qualified workers. It finds that 66% of employers who are dissatisfied with their workers were likely to hire people with only a high school diploma in the coming year.

The survey also reports that high school dropouts, as well as high school graduates without any postsecondary education, face an uncertain future. In fact, only 22% of the businesses surveyed said that they would hire an individual without a high school diploma. Nor do high school graduates without additional education enjoy a great deal of job security. According to the survey, individuals with only a high school diploma are about 3 times as vulnerable to layoffs as those with some college coursework (59% compared to 21%) and they are about 6 times as vulnerable as those with a college degree (59% versus 10%).

Businesses place a higher value on education than parents do. According to the survey, 85% of businesses said that getting a good education is more important than it was 20 years ago. In addition, about 60% of businesses said that every student should get an education beyond high school, and 55% said that getting a good education is essential to success in life—almost double the percentage of parents (27%) who feel the same way.

The survey excluded businesses that largely require only a high school diploma, such as fast-food restaurants. The mean size of the businesses surveyed employed 157 people and had $8.3 million in gross sales in the past year.

The complete survey is available at

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