Report | April 3, 2017

Social-Emotional Skills in Early Childhood Support Workforce Success

Why business executives want employees who play well with others

Across the country, business executives have observed that too many employees and job applicants lack the “social-emotional skills” necessary to succeed on the job. This has consequences for the capability of businesses to compete in the global economy. (See the interactive map of adverse childhood experiences.)

Businesses need employees who can communicate well with coworkers or customers, collaborate to solve problems, and persevere to overcome challenges. The truth is, the foundation for these skills is laid in a child’s earliest years, as much of a child’s brain architecture is developed during the first five years of life. This directly impacts the development of the social and emotional capabilities that support long-term success in school and the workforce. 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.

The pipeline to a successful workforce depends on children of all backgrounds having academic and social-emotional skills that are vital to the economy.

Jack Brennan, Chairman Emeritus, Former CEO, and Senior Advisor, Vanguard

In this national ReadyNation report, we examine how character skills formed in early childhood contribute to building a strong workforce with the necessary social-emotional skills for the 21st century economy. For example, a 20-year study examined the character skills of 800 kindergarteners and followed them until age 25. For every one-point increase in children’s character skills scores in kindergarten, they were:

  • 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma
  • Twice as likely to attain a college degree
  • 46% more likely to have a full-time job at age 25

Also in these state briefs, you’ll hear firsthand accounts of major company executives across the country—from Texas to Pennsylvania—about why social-emotional skills are critical to their businesses’ success, and why they believe smart investments during a child’s earliest years ensure that employees are ready to succeed on their first day at work.