“Access to quality education at an early age is foundational for a child’s success throughout life.”
Lynn J. Good, Chairman, President and CEO
Duke Energy Corporation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce calls early childhood education a matter of our “national economic prosperity and the viability of the American dream.” (Ready, Set, Go! Why Business Should Support Early Childhood Education)
They begin their report – Starting Smart & Finishing Strong: Fixing the Cracks in America’s Workforce Pipeline Through Investments in Early Childhood Development – with this statement: “Business has a clear economic stake in the future of our nation’s children and should be an active partner in promoting policies that help young children succeed.”
Another national organization that supports early learning is the Business Roundtable. It has adopted a policy blueprint and is calling on state leaders across the country to enact a six-step policy agenda to create a state aligned birth-to-age-eight system to support children on their path to reading proficiently by the end of third grade. These business leaders know that children need a strong start to become proficient readers and the qualified workforce of the future. U.S. companies are already experiencing a skills gap that will become even more serious as the economy grows. By 2020, 67% of jobs in NC will require some post secondary education.
Our global competitors understand how important the early years are. China, for example, has made early childhood development a national priority. (Brookings Institution)
Why? 80 to 90 million American adults, about half of the workforce, do not have the basic education and communication skills required to acquire and advance in jobs.
- Close to half of NC employers reported deficiencies in critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
- 60% of NC employers reported gaps in communication skills.
A survey of business leaders found that employers value these skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills, as more important to work-readiness than traditional skills, like reading, writing and math. In the workplace, these skills translate to honesty, trustworthiness, team building, effective communications, conflict resolution and positive attitudes. In a recent Zogby Survey of 300 business decision-makers, 92 percent agreed that early childhood experiences affect the development of social-emotional skills later in life.
It’s an investment that pays off!
This graph shows Nobel Laureate James Heckman’s research showing that dollars invested in the early years have the greatest impact. In each case the majority of those returns are to the community, not just to the individual. Participants in high quality early childhood programs have higher earnings, pay more taxes and are less likely to rely on government assistance. So the individuals who participate have better jobs, better education, and better lives – and in terms of dollars returned from the investment, it is society that is the big winner.
Dr. Heckman’s latest research shows a 13% Return on Investment for comprehensive, high-quality, birth-to-age-five early education. The research analyzed life outcomes – health, crime, income, IQ, schooling and the increase in a mother’s income after returning to work when child care is available.
Additional Resource: U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 13 Things that Business Can do to Support Early Childhood Education