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Irish Government Launches P-TECH Pilot to boost students’ opportunities in the Digital Economy

An Taoiseach, the Minster for Education and Skills and the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform announce the piloting of the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology) School Model in Dublin’s North East Inner City to give local students a career pathway in the digital economy. 

20181119 PTECH

  • This new 6-year education model seeks to integrate third-level modules and workplace experiences alongside second-level schooling with the aim of enabling students to earn a third-level qualification, and skills required to enter the workforce.
  • P-TECH students will gain highly relevant workplace skills, such as collaboration, communication and creativity as well as professional and technical skills. 
  • Enrolment of new students will begin in March 2019, with the first classes to start in September 2019, at three participating schools. 
  • P-TECH was first developed in 2011 in Brooklyn, New York, by IBM and local educators. Since that time, P-TECH has grown to more than 100 schools across the US and other countries, with more than 500 businesses participating. Ireland is the first country in Europe to adopt the model.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, today launched the piloting of a new education model in Dublin’s North East Inner City. Pathways in Technology or ‘P-TECH’ aims to tackle educational disadvantage and increase the numbers of students either finding employment in competitive entry level digital skills roles or progressing to higher education.

The P-TECH model is a public education initiative that combines second-level school education with elements of third level education and work experiences such as mentorship and internships, and is in line with the proposed actions outlined in the Mulvey Report “Dublin North East Inner City – Creating a Brighter Future” published in February 2017 “to align education, training and employment activation efforts”. It is directly aligned to job opportunities in the digital economy Digital economy jobs include some of the technology industry's fastest growing fields, from cybersecurity and cloud computing to cognitive business and digital design, which may not require a university degree, but that may need a specific skillset instead.

Speaking at the launch An Taoiseach said,

We want to give all children and young people the best possible start in life, whatever part of the country they are growing up in. According to a recent UNICEF report, Ireland is ranked second out of 41 wealthy nations in promoting educational equality. But there's always more we can do. The P-TECH model helps tackle disadvantage through integrated education. It’s all aimed at getting students ready for the workforce. I’m delighted this pilot is being launched in the North East Inner City; if young people in this area are given the best possible chance to succeed, the entire community will benefit.

The first schools in Ireland to participate in the P-TECH pilot will be Larkin Community College, Marino College and St Joseph’s CBS, Dublin. The National College of Ireland will be the initial third-level education partner. IBM, Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life will participate as the first industry partners.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister for Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe said,

I want to thank IBM for bringing this model to Irish schools, and to pay tribute to them and companies such as Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life in making a serious commitment to pupils in Dublin’s North East Inner City which has great potential to enhance their lives and their futures. Their involvement will provide a unique and valuable insight into the world of technology for the students participating and, ultimately, a real opportunity to pursue careers in this field.

Also speaking at the launch, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, said,

Young people in inner city Dublin are getting a unique opportunity through the pilot P-TECH model.  They will be the pioneers of this project. It will open doors for pupils in terms of education and they will leave school ready for a career. The project is about giving the next generation the experience, confidence and skills to compete in a fast changing world of work and to allow them to be role models for their schools and communities. I wish them and all involved every success in this exciting venture.

Paul Farrell, Country Manager of IBM Ireland, said

Preparing all young people for the future of work is critical for our economic and social vitality. I’m very proud that IBM has been able to bring the P-TECH model to Ireland, and with the help of the schools, colleges and the Department of Education and Skills, adapt it to work in the Irish educational context”. "I’m delighted that Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life are participating as industry partners for the schools, and I hope that other leading companies will join us in this initiative over the coming months,

he added.

Michael Stone, Chair of the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board also expressed his delight at this new initiative stating

I was honoured to have been asked to chair the Programme Implementation Board and it is great to see the initiation of this model in schools in the North East Inner City. I would like to thank all those who made that possible. Kieran Mulvey, the person responsible for the “”Creating a Brighter Future” report on Dublin’s North East Inner City had the hope that the Report would assist in creating a new start and developing a new approach for the betterment of this community and should contribute and assist towards resolving the particular and difficult challenges which they face on a daily basis. I believe that the introduction of the P-TECH model is fully in keeping with that vision.

Note for Editors

In June 2016 the Government launched a major initiative to oversee the long term social and economic regeneration of the Dublin North East Inner City (NEIC) area. Kieran Mulvey was appointed to engage with local groups and to report back with recommendations. The Dublin North East Inner City Creating a Brighter Future was published in February 2017 and recommended a number of new structures and appointments to lead this work.

NEIC Programme Implementation Board (PIB)

Established in June 2017 and led by an independent chair, Michael Stone, the Board comprises the key Government Departments and Agencies who have statutory responsibility for delivery of key services and accountability for the expenditure of funds related to priority areas in the North East Inner City project. The Programme Implementation Board has established four working sub groups reflecting the priority areas for actions. Each group has been assigned the relevant actions from the Mulvey Report. The sub groups have representation from the community and business sectors.

P-TECH (P-TECH: Pathway in Technology Early College High School)

A group of past pupils of some North East Inner City (NEIC) post primary schools approached the Minister for Education and Skills, An Taoiseach and the NEIC taskforce to examine the possibility of adapting the IBM P-TECH initiative in the Irish Education system.

Officials from the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Taoiseach held meetings with IBM and a group of schools in the North East Inner City in order to develop an approach which is tailored for the Irish education system. This Programme will be implemented as part of the Dublin North East Inner City Initiative (NEIC).

Established by IBM in 2011 in Brooklyn, New York, in the US, P-TECH focuses on creating a direct path between high school, college, and career. P-TECH demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in strengthening education and reinvigorating local economies.

Since its establishment in New York in 2011, P-TECH has grown to over 110 schools in the US More than 550 large, medium and small companies across a wide range of sectors including health IT, advanced manufacturing and energy technology. IBM directly supports 11 P-TECH schools and is leading the strategy and technical support of the entire industry network. To date, over 185 students have graduated, of which 23 have joined IBM.

P-TECH has three goals:

1. To provide youth with an innovative and highly relevant education that enables them to enjoy an enriching educational experience and to earn a third-level qualification, along with the skills required to continue their education or to enter into competitive digital technology careers.
2. To realise the potential of students by instilling a unique culture built upon ambition and high expectations for students and adults alike, so that the students see themselves as "college students" and "on a career pathway" from the moment they begin the P-TECH Programme.
3. To address the “skills gap” and strengthen the economy by building a digital ready workforce with the technical and professional skills required for 21st Century jobs.

While the primary point of entry is 2nd Year of second-level school, the participating schools will offer taster activities to 1st Year students. P-TECH is open to all students of all backgrounds and abilities in the participating schools, with no exam or entrance requirements. The model will support students in earning qualifications together with the work experience needed to be a highly qualified candidate for employment in IT and related areas and to have an opportunity to participate in Further and Higher Education. The Programme offered to P-TECH students will be free of charge to students and their families.

P-TECH includes a structured workplace learning strand, with mentoring, worksite visits, speakers, project days, skills-based and paid internships. P-TECH students who have achieved the educational goals will be “first in line” for consideration for suitable jobs with the Industry Partners. P-TECH will start in September 2019, with enrolment of the first students taking place in early 2019.