Encouraging future Kiwi talent with P-TECH

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Author: Liz Hampton, Corporate Social Responsibility manager IBM New Zealand

P-TECH students get hands on with tech

P-TECH students get hands-on with tech

When the school year began in February, a new education-business-tertiary partnership also began at Aorere College and Manurewa High School in South Auckland. A cohort of 43 Year 11 students started their P-TECH journey, with a programme that provides for seamless transitions from school to tertiary to career.

It was great to see some familiar faces amongst the cohort, grinning cheerfully at me. Last year, we ran a Year 10  taster program raising awareness of P-TECH with students and their families. One student told me proudly, “Yeah, I’m back, Miss. I enjoyed that stuff last year.”

P-TECH, or Pathways in Technology, is an innovative school model, connecting secondary schools, tertiary institutes and businesses. It integrates high school and tertiary coursework, alongside building work-ready skills, like good communication, being a strong team contributor, and problem-solving. At the program, the base is student mentoring, workplace visits and projects, work experience and paid internships provided by industry partners.

In New Zealand, the partnership with Aorere College and Manurewa High School includes IBM and the Warehouse Group as industry partners and Manukau Institute of Technology as a tertiary partner.

Mike Smith, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand with a P-TECH student

Mike Smith, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand with a P-TECH student

As IBM’s Managing Director, Mike Smith, says, ‘What I love about P-TECH is that it brings the whole community together in the classroom. Industry partners are right there, alongside teachers, parents and students, through mentoring, internships, hands-on experiences and workplace visits”.

I had more first-hand experience of this at the P-TECH Orientation day held at IBM recently. The student cohort and mentors (half from IBM, half from the Warehouse) met for the first time. It was brilliant, one MHS student said. “I felt encouraged. I loved how the mentors pushed us out of our comfort zone and made us feel welcome to the point where we felt safe and comfortable in the IBM space. We broadened our ideas and had heaps of fun. And that’s what I would take away. We just met the mentors, but already they’re becoming a family to me.” 

Mike Smith, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand with a P-TECH student

Mike Smith, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand with a P-TECH student

Research shows that early interactions with tertiary institutions and the workplace, while still at school, increase the likelihood of successful transitions when students leave school. Over this coming year, the students will be taking their first year of NCEA subjects, along with P-TECH experiences that will build familiarity with the workplace and help build skills, that are relevant, up to date, and aligned with what businesses need. Students will also have their first taste of tertiary, with a short course at Manukau Institute of Technology.

Partnerships through programs like P-TECH have immense value, encouraging future talent, and helping bridge gaps between learning and transition into work.

“Since I am a newcomer towards this whole programme, I was able to learn a lot more about my classmates and the mentors, and I really enjoyed being at Orientation because it gave me bigger ideas for my future,” said one student.

‘Bigger ideas for the future’ – wow, inspiring! So exciting to see this collaborative partnership come to life in New Zealand and begin the journey with our Kiwi students, who have so much potential.

Around the world, P-TECH students are redefining what’s possible when there is early access to the technical and professional skills needed for the future of work. P-TECH first started in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011. Today, there are 200 P-TECH schools with more than 100,000 students in 18 countries

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