Business leaders Discussed Importance of Early Childhood

From October 27 till October 28, the Jacobs Foundation co-hosted the first European Business Leader Forum on Early Childhood with 50 selected business leaders from five European countries to discuss ways the private sector can support early childhood education and care for the benefit of the current and future workforce.

Business leaders in all parts of the world are looking for a productive and skilled workforce, and an innovative and economically healthy working environment. How can this be achieved? By investing in the future of children – or more precisely by investing in early childhood education and care! To discuss possible ways, the Jacobs Foundation together with Readynation, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Compagnia di Sao Paulo, and King Baudouin Foundation hosted the first ever European Business Leader Forum on early childhood.

Connection between early brain development and adult productivity
Attendees from Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Turkey and the UK heard lectures and participated in panel discussions regarding a wide range of critical topics. Chief among them was the connection between early brain development and adult productivity, and how fostering such development in the first five years of life is essential to success during adulthood.

A central theme of the forum reinforced that a commitment to early childhood is an economic and workforce development priority. Milan Prenosil, President of Sprüngli, underscored this point, saying, “For me, for our business, and for Switzerland, early childhood education can give us more integrity of our cultural society. I’m convinced that this would give us future economic power.”

“We need to invest in the workforce we’ll need in the future NOW”
Along those lines, there was also extensive discussion of corporate engagement and how individual companies and organizations can support early childhood. Michael Zaugg, Head of HR Talent Switzerland and Europe for ABB Schweiz, echoed some of Prenosil’s sentiments when he noted, “We’re facing the fourth industrial revolution; the internet of things is coming. Everything will become digital. This requires a different set of mind and skills and different corporate capabilities. If we want to follow up on that strategy, we need to invest in the workforce we’ll need in the future now.”

Business leaders begin to actively invest in ECEC
Leaders also recognized and discussed the need to raise the profile for early childhood education and care among major country-based business organizations. Spotlighting ECEC can be beneficial for business leader organizations and their respective nations, and determining the best way to encourage and execute future participation by such groups is imperative.

The European Business Leader Forum on Early Childhood was an important first step as business leaders begin to take a more active role in addressing the vital issue of ECEC in the context of current and future workforce development.