Businesses see value of early childhood education

 
Posted4/1/2019 1:00 AM

The search for skilled employees is filled with fierce competition: Individual businesses and communities, states and entire countries are all vying with each other to land the best possible, best-prepared workforce. That's why a new set of statistics recently caught my attention.

According to our State Board of Education, about three out of five Illinois kindergartners begin their formal years of learning unready for school. Statewide, about 70 percent fall short of where they need to be in early math skills, and half are socially and emotionally unprepared to start school.

 

From my vantage point of working with local businesses, these are alarming numbers. They relate to precisely the same kinds of technical and nontechnical skills that children will need to succeed in school -- the skills their future employers will be seeking.

Overcoming these challenges is possible before kids leave school, but it's costly and difficult. Years of research point to the significance of another option: Ensuring more children can enter school in a better position to succeed, from the get-go.

For these reasons, I join other execs in the ReadyNation business-leader network in support of greater investments in children's learning and development, from cradle to careers.

It's good to see bipartisan backing for such goals as increasing state support for the construction and renovation of preschools, child care centers, and other early childhood facilities. Illinois made the improvement of early learning infrastructure a part of its last capital plan, and should do so again in our next construction effort. So, too, should we continue to grow investments in preK, child care, and birth-to-3 programs.

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These priorities can help give our state and communities the competitive edge it needs, in order to ensure the finest prepared workforce for future business growth.

Yvonne Invergo, President and CEO

Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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