P-TECH Aims to Make Irish Workforce More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive

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IBMers Toni Deguirre Parker, (third from left), Joel Mangan (center), and Danille Jager (fifth from left), with students from various PTECH schools at Planet PTECH in New York City, Aug. 20, 2019.

As a P-TECH industry partner working at Irish Life & Canada Life in Dublin’s north east inner city, we’re working to integrate innovative and emerging technologies in our business –with support from local community talent to make our workforce more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

All industries across all sectors are digitizing and the jobs market is transforming, too. The European Commission estimates that in the EU in 2020, the gap between the demand and supply of ICT specialists will be around 500,000. And the employees lacking the technical and non-technical skills needed to fill these jobs has heightened efforts to bridge the widening “skills gap.” These desired skills not only include technical competencies like coding or engineering, but also includes non-technical skills like adaptability, teamwork and more.

Which is why when Ireland became the first country in Europe to adopt the P-TECH school model last year, our company joined as one of the key industry partners. We want to ensure our workforce has the education and skills they need for future careers, while also helping to reduce inequality and generate long-term returns for ordinary citizens in our local community of North Dublin.

And after this week in New York City at the first ever IBM sponsored Planet P-TECH nearly 300 other industry leaders, administrators and students, it’s even more clear why we’re part of this P-TECH network. Namely, the model is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Ireland is one of 19 other countries with P-TECH, and a number of countries, like ours, will open the doors this fall to welcome new students. Which is why it was very special to spend time talking and sharing best practices with some of the 75 community colleges and 600 industry partners affiliated with P-TECH, including Global Foundries, VW, and American Airlines in the city where the model started.

We had the opportunity to visit the first ever P-TECH school, which was initially established by IBM and local educators in Brooklyn, New York in 2011. P-TECH aims to give students in underserved communities a career pathway in the digital economy without an exam or entrance requirements and is free of charge to students and their families.

The model combines second-level school with elements of third-level education and workplace experience with industry partners like us. And P-TECH graduates can also earn a third-level qualification, and gain the skills required to enter the workforce, without necessarily having to spend four years at university. Those P-TECH students who achieve the educational goals will be first in line to be considered for suitable jobs with the industry partners.

Tackling educational disadvantage that students face in rural and urban areas, like Brooklyn and north Dublin, is a tall order – and addressing the skills gap is equally important for everyone. The workforce of the future requires a change in mindset, a vision, and hard work from all those we met with this week: governments, businesses, school administrations, teachers, and not least the students themselves.

As we look forward to the school year with the local P-TECH school here in Dublin, we’re proud to be a P-TECH industry partner working with local talent to help them build better futures. It’s an opportunity to connect with our community, and also build a future world of work that is more inclusive, diverse and equitable.

This story first appeared on the Good Tech IBM Blog.

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Specialist, Irish Life & Canada Life

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