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Help Wanted: Businesses Call for Early Childhood Education Funding

PHOTO: Fortune 200 companies say they are having trouble finding a qualified workforce in North Carolina at times. Photo credit:
PHOTO: Fortune 200 companies say they are having trouble finding a qualified workforce in North Carolina at times. Photo credit:
March 23, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Businesses wishing to locate and hire in North Carolina are at times having trouble finding a qualified workforce. That's according to Bill Millett founder of the Charlotte-based Scope View Strategic Advantage, a firm that works with companies looking to fill positions utilizing a variety of skill sets. Millet joins other business owners in the opinion that it starts with early childhood education.

"There are some companies that go overseas because it's cheaper over there, but there are some major Fortune 200 companies that we work with that just can't find the talent here," says Millett. "They are patriots. They want us to up our game in terms of workforce development and they believe that workforce development begins in the earliest months of life."

The First Five Years Fund estimates that children who receive early education are 33 percent more likely to be employed and earn a higher average salary and 70 percent less likely to be arrested for a violent crime before the age of 18.

According to the NC Early Childhood Foundation, for every dollar invested in early education in the state, North Carolina sees between a seven and 10 percent return on its investment. Tracy Zimmerman, executive director with the Foundation, says it's money well spent.

"At the state level, the more we can do to ensure children have what they need, that they have access to high quality early environments and learning experiences, that they have good health, that we're supporting families. That is in the best interest of this state," she says.

Millett says in the global economy it's important to remember what was adequate education in the last generation won't make the grade as the U.S. works to compete with other world economies.

"Their competition for quality lives and quality jobs is growing up on at least four other continents and those kids have access to information and in many cases better early education than our kids have," says Millett.

He says multiple bodies of scientific research support the opinion that the brains of children under five years of age are able to absorb information and develop in ways that's not possible once their brain is fully developed.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC