P-TECH students answer the call to fight climate change and COVID-19

By and Willie Tejada | 2 minute read | January 26, 2021

Business leaders have been adapting to big challenges and changes over the past year, including the adoption of AI and cloud technologies to survive and thrive. Now more than ever, there is a skills gap that aspiring leaders and students can address to bring digital ideas to life, to drive value for their companies, and to be successful in their careers.

In fact, a recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study found fewer than 4 in 10 human resources (HR) executives surveyed report having the technical skills needed to achieve their enterprise strategy. That challenge has only been exacerbated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – as many C-suite leaders report inadequate skills as one of their biggest hurdles in progressing their businesses’ digital transformations.

This skills gap, coupled with pressing social issues that demand our attention, is why we’re launching a competition called the Call for Code P-TECH Challenge today. The Call for Code P-TECH Challenge activates P-TECH students, mentors and teachers around the world to come together using data, IBM Cloud and AI to help solve urgent humanitarian issues.

Call for Code was created by David Clark Cause and supported by Founding Partner IBM and Charitable Partner United Nations Human Rights — and invites developers and problem solvers to build solutions that take on societal issues. Together with The Linux Foundation, it helps support the deployment of open source solutions around the world. This Call for Code P-TECH Challenge is an invite especially for the younger generation in our P-TECH schools to join the Call for Code mission.

Throughout this challenge, P-TECH students in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Hong Kong (S.A.R. of China), England, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, and U.S. will gain professional learning experiences—like how to build websites and AI chatbots–and apply them to important humanitarian issues including COVID-19 and climate change.

Teams of two to five (2-5) participants from selected P-TECH schools will receive support and advice from both IBM mentors and community members. They will use technologies such as Watson Assistant to build mobile apps, a website, or a weather dashboard to help solve urgent issues such as remote education during COVID-19, or energy sustainability to help mitigate climate change.

Individual teams from P-TECH will also host virtual design thinking and problem-solving sessions to develop and enhance their projects. And then in late June 2021, judges will pick the winner based on the idea’s design, innovation, creativity and completeness. The winning global team will receive an iPad Air, support for their project for four weeks, and the chance to pitch their idea to a top IBM executive and receive advice about its market feasibility, as well as strategic advice on how to scale the solution.

It’s important that we equip the next generation with skills for the workplace. And this includes helping P-TECH students, many of whom are from underserved communities, gain workplace learning experiences.

By asking P-TECH students, teachers, and mentors to come together for this challenge and create practical solutions to global problems, we hope it will both create learning opportunities that refine their skills and also make a difference in the pressing issues our world faces.

To learn more about P-TECH visit https://www.ptech.org/. And more information about Call for Code is available at www.IBM.org.