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The Three-Legged Stool to Success

The Three-Legged Stool to Success
IBM’s P-TECH Academy Establishes Path to “New Collar” Jobs.

The Three-Legged Stool to Success:  IBM’s P-TECH Academy Establishes Path to “New Collar” Jobs.
IBM has established a partnership in collaboration with school districts, community colleges, and industry in order to prepare individuals for technology jobs designed as “New Collar” jobs.  According to IBM, New Collar jobs are a combination of blue-collar and white-collar jobs aimed at building mid-level skills for a new workforce.  New Collar jobs require skills with some level of college education, making them higher level than blue-collar jobs but below white-collar jobs because they do not require a four-year degree.  IBM notes the new aspect of these jobs is the embryonic nature and high-speed development of technology.  “Due to the evolving nature of technology, many of these IBM jobs do not require a four-year degree, and will be filled by people with a diverse range of backgrounds and qualifications. These “New Collar” jobs are in some of the technology industry’s fastest growing fields, from cloud computing and cybersecurity to digital design and data science.” 
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are more than half a million open jobs in technology-related sectors in the United States.  There are 28 million middle skill jobs those that require an associate degree or some level of technical training currently vacant in the U.S.  IBM has set to resolve the skills-gap in working with postsecondary and higher education to set a path to employment in technology relates jobs.  Specifically, IBM plans to hire over 20,000 professionals in the next four years.  They cannot accomplish that goal unless they invest and train individuals for new collar jobs.
IBM developed the Pathway in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model as an academic training partnership with more than 65 community colleges and universities.  The P-TECH model is designed to address the skills gap in America for grades 9-14 and address postsecondary degree completion, associate degree attainment and career readiness.  Students who complete P-TECH Academy, graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.  IBM indicated that “The P-TECH model provides a pathway from high school, to college, and the professional world.”  
Students need an education that makes real-world connections and training in specific skills.  Students need engaging experiences with the work world and a classroom that can prepare them to transition into careers. The P-TECH model consists of a partnership with a school district, college, and an employer - a set-up with three major partners, like a three-legged stool, to support student success and industry employment.  The first P-TECH school opened six years ago in Brooklyn.  During those six years, the school achieved graduation rates and successful job placement for almost all of its graduates.  Approximately 35 percent of its students graduated  two years ahead of schedule and by this summer, over 90 students from Chicago and Brooklyn, N.Y. P-TECH programs will have graduated with both high school diplomas and associate degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
What makes this program so unique is that its foundation is based on adding equity and opportunity for underserved communities.  While, the P-TECH model works for all students, it targets students who are underrepresented in college, especially students who are from a minority group and first in their family to attend college.  The primary goal of the P-TECH is to help students earn a college degree while training to successfully transition into the workplace with the skills needed to be successful. 
School districts work closely with colleges and employers to align and develop the relationship between school and work.  The P-TECHs are connected with community colleges to ensure that the associate degrees offered through the partnerships are based on the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the career pathway.  At this time, IBM is planning for 100 P-TECH schools across the country. 
IBM is clearly at the forefront of training this new kind of worker and is partnering with Allegany College of Maryland, Northeast Iowa Community College, and Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina.  Allegany College, is collaborating with IBM to enhance high-tech skills for training in cloud computing and cybersecurity to be more readily available to the local workforce.  At Northeast Iowa Community College, IBM has set up a five-week course for interns from the college to work as entry-level IBM jobs.  At Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina, IBM is working with the college on cloud, data science, and cybersecurity training.  “We’re seeing that in a number of areas, in particular in jobs in advanced manufacturing … what’s referred to as digital manufacturing require higher level skills, particularly math and technology,” said Gary M. Green, president of Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 
The nation’s community colleges play a vital role in the collaboration toward training the next workforce and bridging the gap between employers and skilled workers. Collaboration and partnerships with the business sector can help to ensure that American workers and businesses remain competitive in the 21st century.

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