Recruiting and training an educated, high-quality work force is the major issue facing the business community today, according to M. Anthony Burns, president, general manager and chief executive officer for Ryder System Inc.

"The number one issue facing parents and educators is the same," Burns said at the monthly all-member meeting of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce. "The average entry-level position by the year 2000 will require three more years education than it does today."Illiteracy is a national disgrace in the United States. Countries, like companies, have to be competitive. We have seen where other countries have mastered this (literacy) to a greater extent. Countries and companies that have an educated work force will have a competitive edge."

Burns, head of the world's largest full-service truck leasing and rental company as well as the world's largest highway transporter of new cars and trucks with a 42,000-employee work force, said when he was a high school graduate more than 30 years ago, he decided to make money by working in his father's gas station in Mesquite, Nev.

Fortunately for Burns, however, his high school baseball coach convinced him that he should further his education by attending Dixie College. Karl Brooks, Burns' coach at the time and now the mayor of St. George, was able to arrange a baseball scholarship for him.

Burns now repays that help by making it possible for numerous minority and underprivileged youth to attend college.

The Ryder Foundation, overseen by Burns, is given a fixed percentage of Ryder System's pre-tax income to advance education and human needs. Ryder also donates more than $1 million annually to the United Way and gives scholarships to young blacks.