IBM wants to create 20 new California schools offering career training in science and technology, with the support of state lawmakers.
The schools would be a combination high school, community college and career training program, part of a concept called P-TECH, which IBM and New York launched six years ago.
President Barack Obama specifically called out the concept in his 2013 State of the Union address, saying the country needs “to give every American student opportunities like this.”
At the schools, students obtain a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in science through a six-year program. A sponsoring company — not necessarily IBM — provides mentorship and career training throughout, as well as expedited hiring.
“We are in a hot war for talent amongst our competitors,” IBM’s Jen Crozier told the Senate Education Committee last week.
She explained that her company needs more programmers. “We know that 500,000 IT jobs sit open in our country while we only graduate 50,000 computer science graduates each year,” she said
But Elisabeth Barnett at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center says P-TECH schools have not been widely studied, though she says they fall under a larger subset of early college high schools, which offer career training. Barnett says students typically outperform their peers who go through a traditional education experience.
“They are more likely to graduate high school, more likely to graduate from college, more likely to progress through college and get good grades and all those things,” Barnett said.
IBM says its first graduating class in Brooklyn achieved their associate’s degrees at a rate four times the national average.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a measure earlier this month to establish the schools, but it would still require the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to approve new funding.
Lawmakers have already agreed to provide a first year of community college free to all students. The P-TECH concept would require a second year.