Improving Opportunity in Tomorrow’s Workforce
A business case for helping advance equity via early childhood investments
Workers of color are a significant and growing segment of the American workforce, representing more than one out of every three workers. However, they carry a disproportionate share of economic challenges, from higher unemployment rates to lower average pay. To strengthen our entire economy, it’s vital that we make use of every available tool in our workforce-development toolbox to help remedy such inequities, starting with the inequities seen in early childhood. As data show, too many Black, Latino, and other children of color are entering kindergarten unprepared for school success, and at a rate outpacing their white classmates.
Often, those early challenges can extend to further struggles in school and beyond, in jobs and careers. And, yet, many children of color still lack access to the high-quality early care and education (ECE) their parents seek—and that is shown by research to boost opportunities for youngsters’ success in the classroom today and the workplace tomorrow. Such supports can command positive results for children of color, the entrepreneurs and employees and community leaders of our future. Policymakers must increase access to high-quality, affordable ECE programs staffed by qualified, well-compensated teachers; bolster mental health supports for young children, their teachers, and parents; and assist parents through voluntary home-visiting programs.