A recent letter writer urged Maine to invest in our kids, starting as early as possible as a way to address our serious workforce shortage. I agree entirely. Maine’s ability to compete and succeed economically at the regional, national and global levels depends on a well-educated workforce — one that is proficient in key areas that determine personal and career success. Starting as early as possible is crucial to achieving those goals.

The reality is that we are not investing as substantially as we should be in quality early education to achieve the results our state’s employers, people and economy need. Maine already faces a “skills gap,” or a shortage of workers with the adequate skills. We know the problem will get worse if we do not take immediate action.

Research shows that quality early learning programs will help put kids — especially at-risk kids — on the right path early, setting the stage for later success. Staying the course with proficiency-based learning for Maine youth is also key to developing the workforce Maine needs.

We must address our labor shortage on several fronts if we are to turn around this looming crisis. Increasing state investments in early education and continuing on the path of making sure our youth are achieving the proficiency and skills they need for success in life will help us avert this crisis. High-quality early learning programs and proficiency-based secondary education are foundational building blocks if Maine is to achieve the stated goal of 60% of Maine adults having a credential of value by 2025.

Megan Sanborn

senior governmental affairs specialist

Maine State Chamber of Commerce

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