June 9, 2017

The Future of the Defense Industry Depends on High-Quality Early Education

To keep our workforce strong and our country secure, we must invest early.

Our nation is not on-track to produce the skilled workforce the defense industry needs

The defense industry needs workers who are well-prepared in terms of core academic knowledge, possess executive-functioning skills like problem-solving, specialize in STEM disciplines, and can successfully obtain security clearances. That last point means that it’s more difficult to import skilled workers from other nations. As a result, the United States faces a serious problem. By 2020, 94 percent of STEM jobs will require some type of postsecondary education, but only 58 percent of working-age adults have that level of education at present.

We must invest in our youngest learners to build the defense industry workforce we need

The first five years of life include a unique period of brain development for children. In order to lay the foundation for future academic and career success, we must invest in high-quality early childhood programs that help get kids “kindergarten-ready.” Studies show that early math, science, and reading activities can foster educational skills, including STEM-related abilities. Moreover, these early experiences can help close the “learning gap” between advantaged and disadvantaged peers. All of those benefits can create better outcomes that also bolster our future workforce, including the defense sector.

Through strategic investments of time and resources, the goal is to inspire and prepare children with the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century – that starts with quality early learning opportunities

Shelley Lavender, President, Boeing Military Aircraft


  1. National