A future in tech begins with education, and the future of education relies on the collaboration of academia, government and industry.
In Colorado, we’re fortunate to have leadership that understands what’s at stake. The tech community needs talent to fill critical roles and many of our young people need to see that there’s an attainable path to well-paid, engaging work within their home state.
In 2015, Gov. Hickenlooper signed the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) bill, creating a public-private partnership to prepare thousands of students for high-skill jobs of the future. The state then started seeking proposals from school districts, institutions and employers to develop and operate six-year high schools that earn students a high school degree, an associate degree in a STEM-focused field and invaluable work experience.
At the front of this charge has been IBM, which helped found the model in New York in 2011. They see the value in proactively attracting students early on, before a STEM career seems out of reach. Many of these students aren’t likely to complete a college degree, so the P-TECH 9-14 model responds to their needs by engaging them in 9th grade for the six-year program that bridges high school and college experience.
Our industry needs a diverse, skilled workforce. There are 42 million middle skill jobs — those requiring an associate degree or similar training — currently vacant in the U.S., and the highest paid of those jobs will be in STEM fields. IBM and others have stepped up with solutions that can drastically alter the landscape for the better.
The P-TECH movement is just getting started, but quickly gaining steam. Three Colorado schools were approved and announced as P-TECH schools in 2016 — Northglenn High School (Adams 12), James Irwin Charter School (School District 49, Colorado Springs) and Skyline High School (St. Vrain Valley). There will be more than 100 schools across the country this year after starting with one in 2011.
We applaud innovative approaches such as this one that focus on partnerships and position industry as a key contributor to educational outcomes. AT CTA, we’re focused on growing a highly skilled, diverse workforce. We can’t wait to see what P-TECH brings and hope you’ll collaborate with us to shape the future of Colorado tech.