“Preparing Students for STEM Jobs in New York City”
In 2010, the unemployment rate in the United States was 9.6 percent, with almost 15 million people out of work. At the same time, companies like IBM observed a lack of qualified candidates for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) positions. Stanley Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation, recognized the skills mismatch in the labor market for STEM-driven companies. He worked across sectors with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and The City University of New York (CUNY) to create the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), a six-year, grades 9-14 school program with the goal to graduate students with a high school degree, an Associate’s in Applied Science, and workplace experience to put them on track to enter jobs in the STEM field upon graduation. This innovative model called for close coordination among partners and effective allocation of decision-making authority to ensure that the school was up and running by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. Due to its expertise in district regulations for the acquisition of school space and the hiring of qualified school staff, the DOE took responsibility for identifying a location for the school, hiring key, qualified staff such as the principal and teachers, and also outlined requirements for passing New York State high school diploma qualifying exams. As a leader in information management and technology, IBM was responsible for the mapping of industry-specific hard and soft skills that students needed to develop and for ensuring the seamless integration of workplace experiences within the school curriculum by providing students with IBM mentors and access to paid summer internships. CUNY provided key expertise during the curriculum development phase on what standards constituted college readiness, opened up their curriculum to high school students for them to access college-level courses on campus, and provided City Tech professors to teach college- level classes at P-TECH.