P-Tech High School Unveils Combination Degree Program Focusing on Technology

Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) in Brooklyn, New York, is offering a six-year program of academic, technical and workplace skills that is garnering attention nationwide.

The rigorous six-year program, starting with the ninth grade, has a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. Mentors will support students as they progress through the courses, and after successful completion, students would have both a high school diploma and a cost-free associate’s degree, writes Eric Anderson of Times Union.

President Barack Obama recently visited the IBM-supported prototype in Brooklyn. Following his visit, educators, business and government officials gathered at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany to figure out how to spread the model statewide.

IBM, GlobalFoundries, Cisco, GE Healthcare, Wegmans, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Microsoft and dozens of other companies have committed to hiring the graduates.

“From the minute students walk into ninth grade next September, they’re going to college,” said Robin Willner of the P-Tech Leadership Council, who moderated the morning programs. “When our students are prepared for high-skill jobs,” Willner said, adding that “we’ll attract businesses, we’ll grow businesses.”

The local schools districts, Troy and Ballston Spa, are preparing to participate in the program.

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo selected sixteen winners statewide to form public-private sponsorships.

In manufacturing, GlobalFoundries, SUNY Adirondack, Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, and Hudson Falls School District were selected, while GlobalFoundries, Cisco, TRC, Hudson Valley Community College, Ballston Spa School District were selected in Clean Technologies.

In advanced manufacturing, Center for Economic Growth, GE Healthcare, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, HVCC, Questar III BOCES and City School District of Troy were selected.

P-Tech “will better prepare students for the workforce of the future,” said F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Albany-based Center for Economic Growth, a regional economic development organization. “Certainly the companies we work with in manufacturing and technology have concerns about the trained technical workforce.”

Innovative approaches to blending academic and career preparation with changing 21st century skills are being piloted not just in New York, but worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced the launch of an initiative to promote coding and other IT skills for a new generation.

The program comes after concerns were raised by the government and experts over schools’ ability to offer critical computing skills. Many companies and experts have come out to support the initiative, as there are fewer people working in the technology sector in an economy that is increasingly becoming digital.

The initiative to promote computing skills comes 30 years after a BBC push to make computing mainstream by putting BBC Micro computers in the majority of schools. Tony Hall, BBC’s general director, in a speech to his staff, said that the initiative would be launched in 2015.