Educating Mississippi's workforce today and for the next generation brought business leaders and legislators to a summit in Jackson. MPB’s Desare Frazier reports.
Early learning and quality daycare translates into a successful workforce according to Katharine Stevens. She's a Scholar with the American Institute in Washington, DC. Stevens is at the Mississippi Economic Council Capital Day speaking to business leaders and lawmakers. She says the critical development years for a child are birth to age three.
"Those first three years lay the foundation for everything that follows from Pre-K, to kindergarten to high school to college, to job-training and the workplace," said Stevens.
Stevens says education must include a focus on the years before Pre-K. She says Mississippi is leading the nation in addressing early learning. The state has started programs such as early learning collaboratives, 3rd grade coaching, and training daycare staff at community colleges. Scott Waller is with the economic council. He says he's always asked by companies how to improve their workforce.
"I think it really starts with maybe greater attention on career technical opportunities, making sure we're finding way to put children on a pathway that leads to success," said Waller.
Waller referred to Milwaukee Tool Company in Mississippi. The firm started a daycare center on site, which attracts workers and provides a learning environment for young children. Governor Phil Bryant says the approach will prepare kids for the workforce.
"Those children at the very earliest ages can begin to learn problem solving, conflict resolution, those early skills, those soft skills that are so needed when they get a job," said Governor Bryant.
Katharine Stevens says expanding early learning initiatives will take time.