Improving Access to Education Programs is Critical to Workforce Development

Employ Buffalo Niagara participates in Business Leads Fellowship program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) focused on education

Marilyn Roach, Director of Business Development for Employ Buffalo Niagara, attended a three-day intensive workshop program in September as part of the Business Leads Fellowship program run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCCF) Center for Education and Workforce.

Roach – one of only 35 professionals from more than 140 applicants across the country accepted for the USCCF program – participated in a wide range of workshops and activities aimed at helping to mobilize the business community in education and workforce initiatives.


The workshops focused on history, policy and programming on topics spanning the education pipeline including:

  • Early childhood
  • K-12
  • College and career readiness
  • Post-secondary education
  • Workforce development.

The sessions were taught by expert faculty and staff from state and local chambers across the United States who have brought best practices in education initiatives to their communities.

Some Takeaways

Here are the top takeaways from Employ Buffalo Niagara’s participation in the program that our community should take into consideration in developing workforce initiatives.

The structure of work and family has fundamentally shifted.

    • Two-thirds of children under five live in homes where both parents work
    • Women are nearly half of the American workforce and mothers are 40% of primary breadwinners

Childcare is essential in support parent’s ability to work or further skills through education. 

    • The average cost of full-time center based care is about $10,000 per year
    • For an individual earning minimum wage, childcare costs are about two-thirds of their earnings

High-quality early learning programs deliver both short-term and long-term effects. 

    • An investment in early childhood education means public savings due to a strong return on investment – returns can be as high as $16 for every $1 spent.

A lack of care costs businesses money.

    • U.S. businesses lose $3 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as a result of childcare breakdowns

Additional information provided by the Fellowship is being compiled to further inform our efforts in workforce development and share with our coalition partners.

For more information on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce click here.