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An I For Development Blog Series
Welcome to our new blog series where we will be sharing novel approaches to development that show great promise. We will seek to highlight efforts that we see as cutting-edge—bringing new partnerships, people and methodologies to address development challenges in multiple sectors.
IBM’s Partnership for Employment-Focused Education
“We don’t have a jobs problem in this country; we have a skills problem.” This was how Stan Litow, quoting Thomas Friedman, began his presentation to the participants at CRO’s CommitForum! last September.
As President of the IBM International Foundation and a former Deputy Chancellor of the New York City schools, Stan has been following the startling education statistics in this country – an overall high school drop-out rate of 25%, with only 30% of high school graduates ever completing a bachelor’s degree. The global economy is increasingly knowledge-based, with an associated increase in the need for workers with post-secondary educations. Because of this, IBM and more than half of US employers report that they cannot find qualified workers.
The Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), is one of the innovative partnerships IBM has launched to address this critical skills gap. The first P-TECH school opened in Brooklyn in September 2011; the New York City Mayor is planning for three more schools in New York and the Chicago Mayor hopes to open five similar schools this year. Students who complete P-TECH’s six-year program will receive both a high school diploma and an associates degree in technology. The program also provides each student with an IBM mentor to help not only with academics, but with planning for employment or further education.
The first P-TECH is an alliance among IBM, the New York City Department of Education, The City University of New York, and the New York City College of Technology. Together, they have created a tough curriculum that requires longer days and a longer school year, with a strong focus on ensuring that graduates are employment-ready when they receive their degrees.
So why do we at CDC Development Solutions find P-TECH of interest for our first blog in this innovation series? It’s quite simple—while it is a long-term investment, this partnership model has the potential to change the face of American education and drive economic growth. Likewise, it has great potential to be replicated in other countries where we work and where the similar skills gaps exist.
Young people need to be able to connect what they’re learning in school to where they’ll be performing in the workplace. Tying education to clear pathways to employment is a clear win for both IBM and the P-TECH students. CDC Development Solutions will be following P-TECH’s results in the coming months and years with great expectations.