by Rebecca Barnes
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, quality, affordable and accessible childcare has a major impact on economic growth. Childcare is an important resource for our community, given that a majority of households with children have both parents or single parents that work outside the home. Investing in children’s education in the beginning, not only helps us today, by allowing parents to stay in the workforce, it builds tomorrows leaders. For every child we educate early, we decrease crime and incarceration and increase the number of qualified working citizens.
On Thursday, April 12th at Old Hickory Golf, Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William and Dominion Energy partnered to highlight the importance of high-quality early childhood care and learning in the education and workforce pipeline. Partnering with several local businesses, this workforce development breakfast was local business leaders, policymakers, and community advocates as well as parents, grandparents and concerned citizens.
Lucy Davidson, Manager, Programs, U.S.Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce (CEW) shared CEW resources on a powerful two-generation approach to building the human capital that a prosperous and sustainable community requires. According to Davidson, “The changing nature of the workforce and shifting employee expectations provides the business community with a unique opportunity to lead the way in implementing family-friendly policies that support their employees and make economic sense for the business’ bottom line.”
Jack Gellen, Vice President, Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems, also spoke on the importance of an educated workforce. “The talent pool for our future workforce begins with young children,” said Gellen, “The seeds for desirable skills, including critical thinking, teamwork, and communication are planted before the age of five. The future depends on access to quality, early learning opportunities.” Gellen spoke of socialization, which is vital, especially young children.
Kendra Kielbasa, Executive Director, Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William, stated “Business leaders are concerned about the growing skills gap. Virginia Blueprint 2025 by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce makes specific recommendations to build a strong workforce through support of Early Childhood Education.” Businesses can assist in the effort according to Kielbasa “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Education and Workforce has developed toolkits to help businesses take the needed steps.”
Sponsors for the Smart Beginnings for Tomorrow’s Workforce breakfast included Dominion Energy, Lakeshore Learning Materials, Apple Federal Credit Union, and Lockheed Martin. The Workforce Development Partner was the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.
Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William works to strengthen the system of organizations and individuals that care for and support the health and education of children from birth through age five. Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William is a program of SPARK, the Education Foundation for Prince William County Schools. For more information, contact Kendra Kielbasa at 703-909-0086 or [email protected].