To prepare our future workforce for success, we have to start in early childhood. Family Forward NC’s focus on workplace policies that impact young children and their families is rooted in research on brain development and future success. During children’s earliest years, their experiences are built into their bodies—shaping the brain’s architecture and creating the foundation for future learning and health. In other words, everything a child experiences from birth impacts that child’s ability to fulfill his or her potential.1
The early years are so defining that by the time a child turns eight, his or her third-grade reading outcomes can predict future academic achievement and career success. Decades of research have established what children need to build strong brains—health and development on track from birth, supportive and supported families and communities, and high-quality birth-through-age eight learning environments with regular attendance.
“American business depends on a strong workforce, now and in the future, to compete and succeed globally. But America is facing an unprecedented workforce crisis: a large and growing shortage of skilled workers. One root of this problem is that we’ve underestimated the importance of the earliest years of life.”
— US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Right now across the country, there are more jobs open than people looking for work.
This includes North Carolina, which has an historically low unemployment rate of 3.7% as of November 2018.2 That makes finding talent difficult, so employers must do what they can to compete.
On top of that, North Carolina and the country are facing a growing skills gap.
By 2020 an estimated 67% of jobs in NC will require some post-secondary education. Currently, only 45.9 percent of North Carolinians meet this requirement.
“The foundation for school, career and life success is largely determined through the development of cognitive and character skills beginning in children’s earliest years.”
—Nobel Laureate Economist, Professor James J. Heckman
Currently, the majority of NC children are not meeting key predictors of future academic success and higher education attainment.
39% of 4th graders scored below proficient in reading in North Carolina during 2017
as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
- North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. “Shared Measures of Success to put North Carolina Children on a Pathway to Grade Level Reading.” March 2018. https://files.buildthefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Pathways-Measures-Book.pdf. ↵
- Goodson Kingo, Aubrey. “20 Indisputable Reasons Why Paid Family Leave is Good For Babies, Parents, Companies and Everyone Else.” Working Mother. December 4, 2017. https://www.workingmother.com/indisputable-reasons-why-paid-family-leave-is-good-for-babies-parents-companies-and-everyone-else ↵
- North Carolina Department of Commerce. July 11, 2018. https://www.nccommerce.com/news/press-releases/survey-nc-employers-supports-nc-job-ready-initiative-match-worker-skills. ↵
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. “2017-18 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools.” September 5, 2018. https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/cccr2017/North-Carolina-CCCR-2017-Final.pdf. ↵