Building a plan for economic recovery is a lot like parenting: there are many ways to go about it, but the best outcomes are the result of good advice and a strong circle of supporters.
A recent column in the Post-Dispatch called training the key to fueling recovery, noting employers’ concerns that there is a shortage of skilled workers. Training is certainly one strategy to develop a skilled workforce. But does it start early enough? Is there a way to start building workforce skills like curiosity and adapatability in addition to math, science and literacy skills even before the start of formal school?
James Heckman is a Nobel prize winner and noted economist at the University of Chicago who has devoted a good portion of his career to examining the link between early childhood and economic success. Can parents really have that much influence over a child’s future ability to earn a living? And if so, why aren’t more employers looking at supporting proven early childhood programs as a strategy toward economic recovery and building a trained workforce?
Michael Martin talked with Heckman on NPR. Heckman “found that the effectiveness of early intervention is much, much higher than many of the interventions that American society has traditionally adopted to try to remediate, to patch up, to fix the problems that arise from disadvantaged environments.”
There are many strategies already on the President’s economic recovery agenda. Support for early childhood programs like Parents as Teachers belongs there, too.