Columnist Charles Lawton is right to point out the potential shortfall of employees in Maine’s future workforce (“For high-quality job growth, focus on creating a skilled labor force,” Oct. 11).

I share his concern that many Mainers lack some of the most important skills that employers need. Developing an academic mindset and learning how to learn are critical to students as they move through their educational careers and become prepared for success as adults.

And make no mistake: That trepidation about a skilled workforce isn’t limited to the private sector.

As a retired general who proudly served my country for 44 years, including eight years as head of the Maine National Guard, I know that skills like communicating effectively, collaborating and thinking critically are of paramount importance in our military, as well as in the private sector. These “executive functioning” skills help bolster the workforce to meet the needs that Mr. Lawton describes.

Thankfully, here in Maine, we have a way to impart those very skills.

Our state’s proficiency-based learning model uses rigorous academic standards and student assessments alongside a curriculum focused on core subjects to help get our young people ready for higher education, civilian careers or the military for those who choose to serve.

Moreover, proficiency-based learning includes an innovative learning technique known as “deeper learning,” which melds traditional academics with practical learning exercises and career and technical education.

Deeper learning uses those elements to instill executive-functioning skills in our students, so that they can go on to meet the challenges of the modern workplace or military.

Supporting and expanding deeper-learning opportunities for our young people will help create a more prosperous state and a more secure nation in the years to come.

Bill Libby

retired Army major general

Old Orchard Beach