What will it take for Maine to secure a competitive economic future? The answer is right in front of us: students who are well-prepared for college and careers.

But while many of them have been walking to receive diplomas recently, too few are prepared for the next step. It’s good to see that school systems are beginning to address this need by analysing what a high school diploma should indicate about students’ readiness for post-secondary endeavors (“Maine high schools revamping graduation requirements,” May 28).

Maine businesses already know our state needs to make changes to ensure we have the qualified individuals required for an increasingly technical workforce.

According to an America’s Edge report, Maine will need at least 15,000 highly skilled workers in areas such as business, finance, computers, math, architecture and engineering if we want to fill the jobs of the future. Jobs for Mainers with post-secondary education are expected to grow seven times faster than those for high school dropouts.

But providing Maine businesses with this highly skilled workforce is a concern. Currently, fewer than half of Maine students taking the SAT during the 2013 school year scored proficient in math, reading, writing or science, and 15 percent of high schoolers fail to graduate on time.

Innovative high school programs, in conjunction with rigorous standards and assessments, can help students connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world through hands-on projects and work experience.

The strength of our state’s businesses is built on the foundation of a qualified, capable workforce. Let’s make sure our students are ready.

Robert A. Moore

president and CEO, Dead River Co.

South Portland