Two schools in South Auckland are now part of a global programme started by IBM to prepare students for technology-related careers.
These are the Aorere College and Manurewa High School, which will begin the P-TECH programme in February 2020 for approximately 30 to 40 Year 11 students.
P-TECH, short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, was established in 2011, and offers a pathway from high school to college completion and career readiness.
The programme is free, has no admission requirements and serves students from historically under-served backgrounds.
The openness of the programme is designed to encourage Maori, Pacific Island and female students to participate
IBM worked with educators to develop P-TECH, in response to the growing recognition that for many emerging technology-related roles, or ‘new collar’ positions as coined by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, flexible and relevant credentials and skills are more paramount than a university degree.
The first P-TECH school was in Brooklyn, New York, and the programme has been replicated in more than 110 schools worldwide.
IBM says it expects P-TECH to be in more than 200 schools by the end of 2019.
More than 550 businesses in technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing currently participate in the initiative as industry partners.
In the P-TECH model, schools, tertiary education organisations and companies work together, so students can earn relevant tertiary qualifications that connect to competitive entry-level careers, as well as develop their academic, technical and professional skills.
Katrina Troughton, GM sales, IBM Asia Pacific, notes that P-TECH “is not a programme where you go at the end of the year, [and ask] what are the results?”
“You will see the results as the kids move to high school, graduate and continue their education, or choose to move full-time into the industry."
This partnership will create new learning pathways directly to new collar jobs
“We are already seeing the first graduates from the programme do that,” says Troughton, who joined IBM NZ managing director Mike Smith and The Warehouse Group chief digital officer Michelle Anderson, at the programme’s launch at Aorere College.
In New Zealand, P-TECH students will be supported to complete a five- year structured programme at high school and in tertiary education.
Students will complete each level of NCEA and progress towards a tertiary qualification while at school.
Upon completing the programme, students will have both their NCEA qualifications and a New Zealand diploma aligned to industry needs.
Participating students will be ‘first in line’ for entry-level jobs with industry partners including IBM and The Warehouse.
“The P-TECH model highlights how secondary and tertiary education and industry can partner together to support young people on a pathway,” says Ellen MacGregor-Reid, the Ministry of Education Early Learning and Student Achievement Deputy Secretary. “I look forward to seeing the progress of the initiative in New Zealand.”
The demand for new skills in areas like cyber, cloud and AI is why we must be pursuing many different creative ways to address the gap in both the short and long-term
Michelle Anderson, chief digital officer at The Warehouse, says the retail group has an established internship programme and is expanding this with P-TECH.
“This is a powerful partnership that combines high school, tertiary and industry working together to ensure work readiness and develop in-demand credentials and skills that employers need now and in the future,” says Anderson.
IBM notes that New Zealand and many other countries are experiencing a shortage of ICT and STEM skills as a result of industries being reshaped by data science, AI, cloud computing and cybersecurity.
A report by the Digital Skills Forum in December 2017 stated that New Zealand has a significant and growing digital skills shortage, primarily due to the increasing speed and scale of demand for technology-related skills.
“The demand for new skills in areas like cyber, cloud and AI is why we must be pursuing many different creative ways to address the gap in both the short and long-term,” says Troughton.
These include forging new ties with government and private organisations to create initiatives like P-Tech, new university programmes, technical and vocational programmes, apprenticeships, certifications, and back-to-work programmes.
This is a powerful partnership that combines high school, tertiary and industry working together
P-TECH is very much in line with the needs of New Zealand employers, says Mike Smith, managing director, IBM New Zealand.
“This partnership will create new learning pathways directly to new collar jobs and help students better understand the connection between their coursework, field experiences and the workplace.”
Troughton says P-TECH also supports the need to focus on diversity and inclusion, and ensure organisations attract and retain people from the full talent pool available.
The openness of the programme is designed to encourage Maori, Pacific Island and female students to participate, she says.
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