IBM Leadership

U.S. Competitiveness: Addressing the Skills Crisis

In my op-ed in today’s U.S. News & World Report, I write about the critical relationship between education and jobs, and why it is essential for the U.S. to commit to both supporting and innovating education. With unemployment stubbornly high while tens of thousands of good jobs are waiting to be filled, we need to ensure that our young people receive educations that are academically rigorous and economically relevant.

New approaches to career and technical education (CTE) and professional apprenticeships have the potential to maximize educational performance and create solid economic value. For example, New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is preparing inner-city students for college and careers with an innovative grades 9 through 14 program that culminates with an associate’s degree in technology and first crack at jobs with IBM – P-TECH’s corporate partner. This summer, 15 rising 10th graders from P-TECH performed better than most college students in a technology course at the New York City College of Technology (one of P-TECH’s higher education partners), and 48 of them (half of the class) are enrolled in college courses this fall.

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits P-TECH next week, he’ll find that this open-admissions public school is helping young people achieve their dreams with techniques that can be replicated in any community. Secretary Duncan then will join other public and private sector influencers in education for the Classroom to Careers Conference at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. The conference – which will be streamed live, blogged live, and tweeted live – will address the skills gap in the U.S., and highlight solutions to the challenge of preparing all young people for college and careers.

Just as we have at other times in our history, we must invest in new educational models that will develop the skills of our young people and lay the stepping stones to global competitiveness.

Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation. Mr. Litow is a former Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

Additional Resources:

A High School With a New Approach to Vocational Education

The Stepping Stone to Global Competitiveness

P-TECH: Where We Are Now

Enterprising Pathways: Toward a National Plan of Action for Career and Technical Education

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