Jul 25, 201604:33 PMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
How being 'family friendly' can help companies overcome worker shortages
(page 2 of 2)
Tyler, who also serves as a University of Wisconsin Regent, thinks Minnesota’s experience with early childhood education is “one of the key differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin” in terms of economic performance. While Wisconsin has relied mostly on private, non-profit, and charitable groups to boost early childhood education, Minnesota has invested public dollars alongside such efforts for 30 years.
The benefits of such programs cut across all income groups, experts agree, but they’re most pronounced in low-income areas where families may lack access to classes, home visits, developmental screening, child care, and reading programs that can give children under five a head start.
Those are the kinds of programs the Family Friendly Workforce underwrites in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.
“Long term, we need to make sure young people who are entering the workforce are prepared to be there starting in their earliest years,” said Lara Otsuka, who runs the program for United Way St. Croix. “Short term, if you’re an employer and can say you’re family friendly, and have the certification to prove it, it’s a great way to attract and retain employees … and increase productivity.”
So far, the St. Croix family friendly program is operating mainly off a federal “Race to the Top” grant, money from the Flowers Family Foundation, and support from individual businesses. As the number of certifications grow, it will likely rely on those revenues.
Demographics are not working to Wisconsin’s advantage these days. For the economy to grow, employers, communities, and government must find creative ways to educate, attract, and retain workers. Something as simple as certifying businesses as family friendly is one such example.
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