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Developing Talent for Middle-Skill Jobs

IBM's P-TECH 9-14 School Model provides young people, primarily from under served backgrounds, the skills and credentials required for 21st century careers. Students earn their high school diploma and a no-cost associate degree, along with workplace skills acquired through mentoring, internships, and more.

Bridging Classroom to Career

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Through public-private partnership, we collectively provide students of all backgrounds with the academic, technical, and professional skills required to compete in the 21st century economy.

16 Million

new collar jobs by 2024

The Challenge

Employers are not able to fill competitive jobs because the skills of the workforce have not kept pace with the changing economic landscape. If left unresolved, the global skills gap will have profound effects on individuals and economies worldwide. Many young adults do not have the skills needed to enter and succeed in growth sectors of the economy.

The U.S. economy will create 16 million middle-skill jobs by 2024 — positions requiring postsecondary degrees but not necessarily a four-year college degree. As the demand for higher skill jobs increases, the demand for jobs requiring only a high school diploma disappear — nearly seven million between 2008 and 2016.

Providing students with supported pathways to earn the skills and credentials required for productive careers and ongoing education will have long-term impacts on individuals, local economies, and society as a whole.

The Solution

IBM’s P-TECH School Model is a partnership between industry, education, and government that extends high school from the traditional four years to six, with a focus on historically underserved youth. When students graduate, they earn both their high school diploma and a free associate or two-year postsecondary degree directly aligned to industry needs.

This model eases the transitions between high school, college, and the professional world. It recognizes that students need early and engaging experiences with the world of work, to make the academic work in high school and college meaningful and to fully prepare them with the workplace skills required by employers. Opportunities to take challenging, relevant courses, and to gain exposure to the workplace, can be powerful motivators for students.

How does P-TECH work?

P-TECH schools are public schools spanning grades 9 to 14 that bring together critical elements of high school, college, and career.

Within six years, students graduate with a no-cost associate degree in STEM disciplines, such as IT, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare, along with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their studies or step easily into high-growth, “new collar” jobs.

P-TECH students are supported by more than 430 business partners.

Industry partners help ensure that students graduate career-ready, providing mentoring, site visits, paid internships, and “first in line” opportunities for job interviews upon graduation.

Industry also provides educators with the skills required for entry level jobs, and the schools map these skills to the curriculum, preparing P-TECH graduates for college and careers.

The program is designed to be both widely replicable and sustainable. IBM created a detailed playbook for how this model can be replicated elsewhere. The website offers tools and case studies to help school districts, higher education institutions, and businesses implement the model with quality and fidelity.

What sets the P-TECH model apart is the partnership between K-12, higher education, and industry, each integrating their expertise to ensure that students, many of whom are the first in their families to go to college, graduate with a degree that matters in the 21st century economy. P-TECH schools are open enrollment and because students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the degree is provided for free.

There are now 90 P-TECH schools across seven U.S. states, Australia, and Morocco. Further replication is under way in states and countries. IBM leads eight schools and provides thought leadership across the entire network, which includes more than 430 other businesses, demonstrating the potential this model holds for reinvigorating local economies.


Drawing students from economically disadvantaged communities, P-TECH schools are seeing strong levels of achievement. From the first cohort of schools, P-TECH Brooklyn (launched 2011 in New York) finished the full six years of the model in June 2017.

These students achieved a graduation rate of more than four times the U.S. on-time average for all community college students and five times the rate for low-income students. Most graduates have gone on to pursue their bachelor’s degrees, while 15 have taken positions at IBM in roles ranging from digital design to data analytics.

Other high-level statistics include:

  • At Excelsior Academy in Newburgh, NY (launched 2014), more than one-third of the first class is on track to graduate two years early.
  • At Norwalk Early College Academy in Norwalk, CT (launched 2014), 18 percent of the school’s first cohort is on track to graduate two years early.
  • At 16 P-TECH schools in New York state, 85 percent of students earned college credits and one-third completed two or more college courses before year four of the model.

Leveraging P-TECH

The P-TECH model is an opportunity available for communities across the country to take advantage of. IBM developed the P-TECH 9-14 School Model Playbook ( to serve as the central hub for public-private partnerships interested in learning about and implementing this model.

The site provides action-oriented guidance and tools, including case studies, to enable public-private partnerships to implement the model effectively and with fidelity.

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