Start Early: Invest in the workforce of the future

As an editor at Staffing Industry Analysts, I’m intimately familiar with the struggle so many organizations face now. Not only is talent scarce just in terms of numbers — unemployment is at decades-lows throughout much of the world — but the people out there who are looking for work often don’t have the skills that are needed in today’s ecosystem.

Companies are struggling now, and we’ve seen evidence of companies reaching out and developing training programs for workers seeking retraining or those emerging from college, for example. Upskilling is a current buzz word. There is also much conversation about investing in the workforce of the future.

And there is so much opportunity to infuse this process early on. Take all those young kids, those still in school, who are falling further and further behind. According to National Center for Education Statistics, living in poverty during early childhood is associated with lower-than-average academic performance that begins in kindergarten and extends through high school.

In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, where SIA is based, third-graders from low-income families are, on average, already two years behind their peers in reading and math. Early reading proficiency has been identified as key to future success in STEAM-related subjects.

When children start school unprepared, their ability to succeed in school diminishes. This leads to lower graduation rates and eventually, lower earnings, which affects the next generation in turn.

SIA rose to the challenge this year, donating school supplies to such children via The Family Giving Tree. Last week, Editor and Publisher Subadhra Sriram and I were proud to deliver our colleagues’ donations in person. While school is about to start for many children, many others are still a few weeks away. As a parent, I can attest to how expensive this time of year can be. From what kids need themselves specifically to what schools ask as extras for the full classroom use, the cost of sending our kids back to school adds up — and that doesn’t even include additional club fees or clothing.

If your company is looking for ways to invest in the workforce of the future, we encourage you to find a local organization to help. And it doesn’t need to stop there. As any teacher can attest, especially those in low-income areas, school supplies are needed year-round. Talk to some local schools. Perhaps your company could establish an ongoing effort to supply much-needed printer paper and ink, and other classroom supplies teachers frequently must buy on their own. Or you can find other ways.

The talent shortage is a multi-faceted problem. As an industry wholly dependent on educated and skilled people, it makes sense to look into ways to invest in it.

Sharon Thomas

Sharon Thomas
Sharon Thomas is a senior editor at Staffing Industry Analysts, responsible for the Contingent Workforce Strategies 3.0 e-newsletter. She can be reached at smthomas (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Sharon Thomas

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