The raw material to close a perceived “skills gap” already sits in our schools. What it needs is a little motivation.

I totally disagree with the governor and other leaders on this one (“Maine Voices: Skilled workers start out as well-educated young Mainers,” Feb. 3).

Our schools are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing: getting our children ready for college, career and citizenship. We do not have a skills, talent or aptitude gap in our high school students and never have.

We possibly do, however, have an imagination gap in our government officials and local business leaders. They seem to be at a loss as to what to do with the excellent raw material coming out of our high schools every single year.

The average present-day high school student receiving an education commensurate with today’s standards (including shop and computer training), if given a smidgen of motivation, will close the skills gap in a hurry “on the job.”

Motivation is the key.

Companies finding ways to motivate students during their high school years will have a leg up when the graduates are looking for jobs. They are not all going on to college.

So let’s not waste any more time lamenting over a lack of skilled workers. We’ve got them, potentially, sitting in our classrooms right now.

Let government and industry combine to provide jobs and ignite the spark of motivation, then just stand out of the way.

Edward Valente is a resident of Scarborough.