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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Editorial: Students filling the 'skills gap'

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Among the latest buzzwords in education and workforce development circles these days is “skills gap.” It means students or potential employees do not have the skills they need to do the jobs available in the marketplace.

The term is mentioned so often that one would think our schools are turning out students totally unprepared for real life.

But a group of students calling themselves “STAG” — Science, Technology and Gifted Students — is showing that is not always the case. STAG is a robotics team that was part of the winning alliance at the 2013 Virginia FIRST regional robotics competition March 16. STAG, with many of the members returning from last year, also was in the winner’s circle in the 2012 competition.

Sixty-five teams competed in groups of three this year. Each team built a robot for the competition, and then the students collaborated on their winning entry and strategy. Along the way, they demonstrated their aptitude in math and science and their abilities to work as a team, be creative, solve problems and perform other skills at a high level.

Now, these students will advance to the FIRST championship April 24-27 in St. Louis.

All of these local students attend the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Martinsville, attend local schools or are home-schooled. Through robotics, they have shown that locally educated students can successfully compete with those around the state and nation.

If there is a skills gap with these students, it is only because they are still young and learning. We would bet that in the future, they will become sought-after employees who will excel at whatever course they pursue.

That is not to say the skills gap is not a concern. But it is to say that we should note the schools’ success stories as well. The STAG team members do that very well.


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