Need workers? Look to preschool educators

Research has shown preschool education benefits society greatly.

You hear stories all the time of employers in your area struggling to fill employment gaps and find skilled workers. Focusing efforts on preschool education could be a solution to closing our worker shortage, by providing a more educated and healthy workforce. A study, named the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, was conducted from 1962 - 2005 and gave us insight on the beneficial impacts that preschool education provides. The study, conducted in Ypsilanti, MI, took three and four year olds of low socioeconomic status and divided them up between a preschool group and a non-preschool group to determine if early childhood education would show positive returns.

The results of the study showed a drastic difference between the two groups. At age 40, the group of students who were placed in preschool had on average higher lifetime earnings, committed fewer crimes, were more likely to graduate from high school and had a higher chance of retaining jobs. Those placed in the preschool group were also less likely to be on welfare and had a lower chance of developing a chronic disease in their lifetime. The study reported that for every $1 invested in the program they saw a return of $12.90 mostly due to the savings in crime and the total publics benefit equaled $195,621.

When we look at the results of this study it is easy to see that early childhood education benefits our society greatly. Having a more skilled workforce leads to closing the worker shortage in the area and also is a strong driver of economic prosperity. The savings received from the decrease in crime will also lead to taxpayers paying fewer dollars in taxes. We all know there is a worker shortage in our area and preschool education may be the solution.  

More information on the results of the study can be found here.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs.

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