High schoolers who began classes this fall will be the first in the nation to graduate with a new type of diploma: one specifically awarded based on the skills they’ve acquired.

Embracing proficiency-based learning is a great development. As someone who has spent time in both the private sector and at the state Chamber of Commerce, I can attest to the fact that employers are concerned about making sure our schools impart the skills students need to succeed in the workforce.

Too often, that isn’t happening.

A report I heard recently on Maine Public Radio pointed out that over 10 percent of students who go to Maine’s public universities need remedial courses just to get up to speed. At our community colleges, it’s over 40 percent.

That’s a problem that the Maine Workforce & Education Coalition sought to address when it created the MaineSpark initiative. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that 60 percent of Maine’s workforce has a postsecondary degree or a professional credential by 2025.

Today, that figure is only 42 percent. Without building a continuum of high-quality education, from pre-K through college, our state’s workforce simply won’t be as strong as it needs to be.

Creating proficiency-based graduation requirements is an excellent step. But we must do more, whether it be greater pre-K investment or increasing opportunities for deeper learning, in order to help Maine’s students become part of the workforce we’ll need in the next decade.

Ben Gilman

member, ReadyNation

Gorham