With the current technological revolution, which undeniably changes the structure of the labour market, it is necessary to rethink the process of education of young adults. Studies show that higher education is increasingly losing competitive market advantage. In Brazil, 13.8% of new graduates cannot get a job, and only 35% of those who succeed work in positions that require higher education, according to Dieese’s research. Moreover, this problem also happens outside national borders, as is the case in the United States. In search of an alternative to solve this problem, IBM, together with the P-Tech School, developed a new model for vocational education.
Located in New York City, Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech School) aims to offer a vocational curriculum, in high school, that seeks to develop skills currently requested by the labour market and are not explored in higher education. In the following post, we will explain a little more about how the school works and why this model of vocational education has gained attention.
The focus of P-Tech’s model and vocational education is to train professionals in the field of technology. The idea is, since high school, to provide educational elements that prepare students for the emerging technological market, fulfilling basic prerequisites hard to find in new graduate professionals. With this, students attend classes in Robotics, Applied Science, Engineering, Computing, among other areas.
The course length for high school follows the American standard, requiring 4 years of studies. However, the student who chooses to extend his education for another 2 years earns a degree in the selected field.
In addition, the education offered by P-Tech is free, including books and other kinds of content. This makes the school very accessible, especially in the United States, where higher education is paid, and most Americans suffer from undergraduate debt.
In order to fulfill its objective of offering content and training that aggregates to the students’ professional careers, the methodology offered by P-Tech requires a very robust pedagogical structure. At first, the students of this model of professional education study full time, summing up 10 daily periods of 40 minutes each. After the end of classes, students are encouraged to perform extracurricular activities. The school also offers a tutoring system so that students can help each other and increase their learning potential. P-Tech also offers other extracurricular activities such as sports, hackathons, events and others.
The first year of training for P-Tech students follows the core curriculum. In the second year, however, the subjects are more diversified, customizing the student’s learning to the field they choose to follow. Another important remark is that the teachers closely follow the performance of the students. They make recurrent reports in order to make adjustments to the program together with the students, if necessary.
Another highlight of the school is the online content and educational platforms made available to students. Thus, students are able to study from home, complementing their educational background in an accessible study model.
The greatest advantage of the vocational education model developed by P-Tech is the more solid training in relation to the prerequisites required by the labour market. Due to its partnership with IBM, the school’s pedagogical team maintains close contact with the company’s human resources team, which is able to provide profiles of professionals requested by the market. Thus, the school is able to constantly adjust the curriculum and optimize it.
In addition, the students of this model of professional education have access to mentoring offered by IBM, as well as the possibility of doing internships, either at IBM or at another company in the technology field. This makes P-Tech School students successful in building a robust career plan and having jobs with high wages.
Compared to other learning models, the one developed by P-Tech is quite recent. The first class started in 2011, with only 104 students. However, the growth and expansion of the methodology is quite surprising. According to the institution itself, the goal was to develop a professional education model that was innovative, efficient and, above all, replicable. To date, there are 200 similar institutions in 18 different countries with over 100,000 students.
The program has also expanded its support network. According to IBM, only 30 graduates from P-Tech work in the company; however, the system has more than 500 partner organizations that offer employment opportunities to students.
In general, this model of vocational education seems quite promising for the market reality we are facing today, and may revolutionize the modern educational system.
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