When high school, community college and business come together to help students succeed, students receive the skills and credentials required to earn a high-paying job in the dynamic 21st-century economy.
Unfortunately, there is a risk of having a greater need for skilled workers than the rate at which our schools can prepare them. While about half of all California jobs are at a “middle skill” level, only 39 percent of workers are trained to that level. And through 2030, California is projected to have a shortage of skilled workers for more than a million positions requiring a bachelor’s degree as well as hundreds of thousands of positions requiring a two-year associate degree with certification in specific fields.
Facing that risk head-on, the California Senate is encouraging more collaboration to help students get on the right career path by approving Senate Bill 1243 this week with a unanimous vote and strong bipartisan support.
SB 1243 supports the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) model, which provides funding for partnerships between businesses, higher education institutions and school districts to prepare students for jobs that California needs to continue economic growth, including health care, finance, technology and advanced manufacturing.
“California’s growing economy demands the type of skilled workers who have helped drive the state’s global success, and it’s exciting to see the state’s leaders investing in multiple pathways for California’s students to build those skills. The P-TECH schools network encompasses more than 90 schools across seven states, and benefits from 450 industry partners who help ensure that P-TECH’s curricula are academically rigorous and economically relevant.
“Bringing P-TECH to California will prepare graduates for the New Collar jobs of tomorrow without the crushing student loan debt of yesteryear. It is the program that industry needs and the chance to succeed that California’s young people deserve.”
Jennifer Ryan Crozier, President, IBM Foundation
P-TECH students not only meet academic goals but also participate in workplace experiences, such as mentorship and internships. Graduating within six years with a cost-free associate degree, students will be employment-ready, not just for a one-off job but for a lasting career in an in-demand field.
“The path toward fulfilling careers no longer ends in a high school diploma. To enable students to succeed in the 21st-century workforce, we must all collaborate to ensure that students graduate with a degree that matters. By investing in students now, California will remain an international economic leader with an energized and engaged workforce.
“ExcelinEd in Action would like to thank SB 1243 sponsor Sen. Anthony Portantino, IBM Corporation, the California Foundation for Commerce and Education and so many others for their support on behalf of California students.”
Tom Greene, Western Region Legislative Director, ExcelinEd in Action
The P-TECH model, created by IBM in 2011, has a proven track record. There are now 90 P-TECH schools across seven states as well as Australia and Morocco. The first cohort from the original P-TECH school in Brooklyn finished the full six years of the model last June, at a rate 4 times the national on-time graduation rate and 5 times the rate for low-income students. Most graduates are continuing through college while others have joined the 21st-century workforce.