IBM partners MDEC & MOE to introduce P-TECH as answer to era of ‘new collar’ jobs

  • Diplomas in applied science, engineering, computers & other in-demand STEM disciplines
  • Flexible, relevant credentials and skills are paramount for many unfilled tech-related roles

Harriet Green, CEO and Chairman of IBM Asia Pacific (right) with students from the two vocational schools that will be the pilot schools for the 'New Collar' era jobs that will be created. Far left is Dr Sumitra Nair, Vice President, Tech Talent Development, MDEC.

IBM is bringing its P-TECH education model to Malaysia. The collaboration to better connect high school, university and industry to develop stronger academic, technical and work-ready skills among Malaysian youth, was inked between IBM Malaysia, the Ministry of Education and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) on 19 Nov.

Through the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) model, high schools, tertiary-level universities, and industry partners collaborate to enable students to earn recognized university-level credentials that provide a direct path to competitive, in demand STEM careers in all industries.

Students pursue tech-related Malaysia Vocational and Malaysia Skills diplomas in applied science, engineering, computers or other in-demand STEM disciplines, while simultaneously building professional skills through mentorships, site visits, and paid internships, culminating in interviews for appropriate job opportunities.

Established in 2011 by IBM in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, and The City University of New York with the first P-TECH school launched in Brooklyn, New York, in Sept 2011 P-TECH has been introduced in 24 countries including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Morocco, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand. P-TECH is expected to reach 220 schools worldwide by the end of this year, with more than 600 industry partners supporting the initiative. P-TECH, which saw its first graduating class in June 2017, is a response to the growing recognition that for many emerging, unfilled technology-related roles; flexible, relevant credentials and skills are paramount.

Early results in the US show P-TECH graduation rates five times the on-time community college graduation rate for low-income students. 

For instance a study predicts that the US economy will create 16 million jobs by 2024 that require post secondary degrees, though not necessarily from four-year college degrees. With demand for these “new-collar” jobs expected to increase, as millions of jobs requiring only a high school diploma have disappeared, IBM sees P-TECH as the answer.


Two vocational schools chosen for Malaysian pilot

In Malaysia, P-TECH students will be supported to complete a five-year structured programme at vocational school (when students are 16-years old) and in tertiary education. Successful students will be able to step easily into high-growth, "new collar" jobs. These "new collar" jobs are positions in some of the fastest growing industries, where what matters most is having in-demand technical and professional workplace skills, adaptability and recognized credentials.

Sekolah Menengah Vokasional (SMV) Sepang and SMV Sungai Buloh will begin pilot P-TECH programmes in 2020, with IBM and MDEC as strategic partners. P-TECH education will begin for approximately 60 students in both vocational schools. The programme is expected to grow as more employers, high schools and tertiary-level universities join.  

Malaysia is 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 Kelly Services Malaysia’s 2019 Malaysia Salary Guide stated that Malaysia is facing challenges in building its digital workforce, as reflected in the fast-growing demand for digital talent despite a comparative shortfall in supply.

“The collaboration with IBM is timely as the intervention at this point of a student’s schooling life at the age of 16 would go a long way to bridge the gap and equip students with technical skills that are underpinned by essential communication basics to succeed in their careers, “ said Dr Sumitra Nair, Vice President, Tech Talent Development, MDEC.

“We are excited and looking forward to establish an internship program with P-TECH. This is a powerful partnership that combines vocational 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,” adds Sumitra.

“At IBM we’re acutely aware of the urgent need for technical skills in many countries, and P-TECH is very much in line with the needs of Malaysian employers. Accordingly, we will do our part to achieve the government’s goal to double the number of skilled workers from 18% to 35% of the work force by 2025,” said Harriet Green, CEO and Chairman of IBM Asia Pacific.

“We are grateful for the support of the Ministry of Education and excited to partner SMV Sepang, and SMV Sungai Buloh and MDEC to bring P-TECH to life in Malaysia. 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,” she says. 

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