As the father of a Mt. Ararat High School graduate, and a taxpayer who proudly supports our public schools, I was very pleased to learn that MTA is now offering a pre-engineer program to our 9-12 graders. (The Times Record: “Pre-engineering course gives MTA students wider STEM exposure,” Aug. 21). 
This is just the type of education, exposure and training that is both responsive to the needs of Maine employers and will put more students on the trajectory for future careers in promising STEM fields. 
The pre-engineering students are learning needed core mathematics and science, while also developing critical thinking, problem solving, communications skills and learning to work together as a team – all important abilities for later successes in both college and careers. 
It is forward-thinking programs like this that will be an important part of how Maine closes our skills gap challenge and meets the goal that 60 percent of Mainers will hold post-secondary credentials of value by 2025. Currently, only 46 percent of Maine adults hold a credential of value.  
To meet this goal, Maine Department of Labor projections tell us that Maine needs 158,000 more workers educated and credentialed by 2025. Filling these positions is critical to ensuring a strong Maine economy. 
Hats off to Mt Ararat High School and Region 10 Career and Technical Center for being part of the solution to our local and statewide workforce challenges. 
Peter M. Gore, 
Executive Vice President, Maine State Chamber of Commerce,