Employability Skills Framework

New York Pathways in Technology Early College High School

Video: Why Do Employability Skills Matter?
Grace Suh, IBM Corporation
Watch video, part 1 (Duration 4:41)
Watch video, part 2 (Duration 4:00)

The IBM Corporation has a long history of supporting educational initiatives at all levels—as part of its corporate citizenship mission and to strengthen the company’s pipeline of qualified leaders, workers, and customers. In September 2011, IBM partnered with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), the City University of New York and the New York City College of Technology to open the Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). Students at P-TECH can earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, and graduates are prepared for careers in the IT field and/or ongoing study in a four-year postsecondary institution.

P-TECH Curriculum

The six-year P-TECH scope and sequence features college preparatory courses aligned with the Common Core State Standards, college credit-bearing courses leading to an associate’s degree, and a contextualized workplace learning curriculum aligned with industry skills. To align the scope and sequence with career skill requirements, IBM mapped the skills necessary to succeed in entry-level IT jobs. In addition to industry-specific skills, the P-TECH workplace curriculum incorporates employability skills, such as problem-solving and collaboration.

At P-TECH, students take foundational courses for two different degrees—Electromechanical Engineering Technology or Computer Information Systems. All students move through the same sequence of courses, but depending on their strengths and needs, may move through them at different rates. However, once they have finished their core requirements, they can choose which degree they want to complete by Year Six. Some students may accelerate through the program in as few as four years. Some may take the entire six years to complete their degree. In each case, the course scope and sequence provides the seamless integration of high school and college requirements.

IBM’s Role

IBM is P-TECH’s primary private sector partner, contributing its business and IT expertise to curriculum development and the overall school model. IBM staff serve on the school’s Steering Committee, which began meeting a year before the school opened and led the school’s design and development, including hiring the principal. A full-time industry liaison from IBM oversees the company’s commitment to P-TECH. Since implementation, highlights of IBM’s role have included the following:

  • Providing an IBM employee to serve as a mentor for each of the school’s 103 students. Using IBM’s online mentoring platform, MentorPlace, IBM professionals provide students with both academic support and career counseling, meeting with students at least once a week online and at least twice a year in person;
  • Hosting students for visits at IBM manufacturing and research facilities, with plans to offer internships and apprenticeships for students in future years; and
  • Making P-TECH graduates first-in-line for jobs at IBM. By playing an active role in the school’s development and operation, IBM ensures that prospective employees are fully prepared for work.
Plans for Growth and Replication

The school opened with 103 ninth-graders and plans to add a new grade level each year. From the project’s inception, P-TECH was intended to serve as a model that could be replicated at high schools across the country. While P-TECH is still new, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced five new 9-14 schools in Chicago, one of which will be done in partnership with IBM.

For more information, visit the P-TECH website.


Pathways in Technology Early College High School website: http://www.ptechnyc.org/

STEM Pathways to College and Career Schools: A Development Guide, February 2012, IBM: http://citizenibm.com/wp-content/uploads/STEM-Pathways-Playbook_Feb-2012.pdf

"Growing Tech Students: A New High School Model," January 23, 2012, Steve Kastenbaum, CNN's schools of thought blog: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/23/growing-tech-students-a-new-high-school-model/

"To Encourage Good Habits, Test Early and Often in High School," April 24, 2012, Rashid F. Davis, New York Times School Book: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/04/24/to-encourage-good-habits-test-early-and-often-in-high-school

"To Achieve Long-Term Success, You Have to Manage for the Long Term," n.d., A Letter from Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, 2010 IBM Corporate Responsibility Report: http://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/chairmans-letter/

"Employability Skills at IBM," July 14, 2011, Grace Suh, PowerPoint Presentation to the technical work group for the for the Support for States' Employability Standards in Career Technical and Adult Education project