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Workers With More Schooling Found To Be More Productive

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Washington

Researchers for the first time have found a demonstrable link between an individual's level of education and his productivity as an employee, Education Department officials and a national workforce center announced last week.

Moreover, education was found to be more effective in increasing a company's productivity than were the number of hours its employees work or its capital investments.

The Clinton Administration seized upon the findings to support its education and training agenda, which has been under attack by Republican budget cutters in Congress. (See Education Week, 5/17/95.)

"Involvement in education is good for business and good for the country. This is no time for a retreat on such a critical investment in our future," Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in a statement.

The House and Senate last week were considering budget resolutions that would call for the dismantling of much of the Administration's education and training agenda.

At the same time, a House committee took up legislation that would fold the Administration's School-to-Work Opportunities Act into a larger vocational-education block grant. (See related story and related story.)

The research findings--which amounted to summary data from a National Employer Survey report that will be released at a World Bank conference next month--were prepared by the University of(See Educational Quality of the Workforce. The research is based on a nationally representative survey of about 3,000 employers who were asked about their employment, training, and hiring practices.

Income Boost

The researchers concluded that for every 10 percent increase in education--the equivalent of a little more than one extra year of schooling--an employee's productivity increases by 8.6 percent.

Productivity increases resulting from 10 percent increases in hours of work or capital stock amounted to 5.6 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

The researchers also found that for employees in nonmanufacturing jobs, productivity increases even more, by 11 percent, for each extra year of schooling.

Because they found that employee income is also boosted about 8 percent for each extra year of a worker's education, center officials said the gain in productivity represents "the double payoff to a nation's investment in education."

"You're seeing a substantial impact from education," said Lisa Lynch, a Tufts University researcher who worked on the study.

The researchers also found that employers who consider school grades when hiring new nonmanagerial employees "had fewer new hires in the past year and were more likely to rate their employees as being fully proficient at their jobs."

The summary study concluded that schools and businesses should strive for stronger connections. Educators, it said, should look at a student's performance in the labor market as "a measure of the school's effectiveness" and employers should be aware "that schools are a principal--and often the principal--supplier of their workers."

Although the new study found a connection between school and work performance, the first part of the National Employer Survey, which was released earlier this year, found that employers do not consider in-school performance as strong a factor as attitude and communication skills when hiring new nonsupervisory workers. (See related story

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