The business case for starting early

‘Investing in the early years of a child’s life is where Australia can get the biggest return on its education investment.’

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD.

In a global context the evidence is mounting about the impact of investing in early learning and care. Australian children have a lot to gain from a new and committed cohort of business leaders who are increasingly on board to boldly advocate for young children – from the day they are born until they start school (or from birth to five years of age).

Investing in early learning and care yields short and long-term financial returns. International cost-benefit analysis shows that every dollar invested in quality early childhood development produces a 13% return on investment, per child, per year.

On the world stage Australia ranks 24th out of the 26 OECD countries for investment in pre-primary education as a proportion of GDP. A number of international governments have made significant investment to expand early learning and care enrolments for all three and four year old children including Norway and the United Kingdom.

To ensure that Australia remains globally competitive into the future, it is vital that we invest in programs that supports educational opportunity for children.

Investing early is the best chance to address these startling facts:

40% of the Australian workforce are below the minimum literacy and numeracy standard needed to function in a knowledge economy.

Business needs employees who are job-ready, team-capable, and well-prepared. Australia also needs leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators able to create new businesses.

Australia’s workforce landscape is changing rapidly, research indicates that by 2030, technology will eliminate five million Australian jobs, which is roughly 40% of the jobs that exist in Australia today, and as high as 60% in regional areas.

The landscape shift remains in its early stages, which affords businesses the opportunity to take action now. Investing in early learning and care for children is a sound measure to prepare Australia’s children for the vastly different world of work they are bound to enter.

Expenditure on pre-primary as a % of government expenditure on education


World Bank. (2017). Education Statistics Databank, Indicators 2011-2014. Retrieved from