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IBM helps young students develop Pathways in Technology

CSR programme provides mentorship, workplace learning and training through a six-year period, from ITE to diploma studies at polytechnic level

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The first Singapore cohort in 2018 had 42 students from the School of Electronics- Infocomm Technology at ITE, paired with 42 mentors.

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ITE students sharing their P-Tech experience at Think Singapore with Harriet Green, CEO and chairman, IBM Asia Pacific.

Singapore

STUDENTS Muhammad Huzaifah Hashim, at ITE West and Koh Ke Xin at ITE East, both 17, are part of Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) programme by IBM.

The corporate social responsibility programme aims to provide students with academic, technical and workplace skills that employers need. P-Tech Singapore provides mentorship, workplace learning and training through a six-year programme, from ITE to diploma studies at polytechnic level.

Mr Huzaifah said his mentor, Muhammad Reyza Yango, who is working at IBM as an infrastructure architect, is inspiring and pushes him to do better.

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He said: "P-Tech is a platform where you can learn a lot of IT skills and gain more confidence to use it."

Ms Koh said: "The essential skills we pick up in P-Tech, such as stress management and time management, are important ones that we may not get to learn in classes."

Both students are among the programme's target audience - students in ITE and polytechnic who will, over six years, graduate with a diploma in applied science, engineering, computers or other competitive STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

Abraham Thomas, managing director, IBM Singapore, said: "P-Tech enables students to master the skills and knowledge to either continue their studies or step easily into high growth, 'new-collar' jobs in Singapore's fast-growing industries…

"What matters most is having in-demand skills ranging from cybersecurity, cloud computing and digital design, to data analytics and artificial intelligence."

A recent study by IBM's Institute for Business Value found that more than 120 million workers in the world's 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled in the next three years as a result of intelligent/AI-enabled automation.

Mr Thomas said that IBM, with 66 years of history in Singapore, has been a partner in driving initiatives that develop talent and skills that underpin the nation's transformation.

"Through the years, we have built a strong ecosystem of partners and Singapore's overall focus on developing skilled talent makes the country conducive to start such programmes."

P-Tech began in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011. The education model was co-developed by IBM working with educators, policymakers and elected officials.

It is designed to be replicable and sustainable, as part of a national effort to reform career and technical education. There are now 200 P-Tech schools with more than 100,000 students in 18 economies.

In Singapore, P-Tech Singapore's educational institutions consist of ITE and the five polytechnics - Singapore, Ngee Ann, Temasek, Nanyang, and Republic, as well as IBM and its industry partners, which include Citi, SIA Engineering, and the Public Service Division such as GovTech, and Housing and Development Board.

The first P-Tech cohort here, in 2018, had 42 students from the School of Electronics-Infocomm Technology at ITE, paired with 42 mentors from IBM and industry partners.

Mr Thomas said: "P-Tech is taught by regular public school teachers. It uses existing curriculum, human resources and infrastructure.

"The focus is to complement current systems with strong industry-relevant skills where industry partners help students to graduate career-ready through skills training, mentorship site visits and paid internships. This is done through a skills-mapping process.

"We work with all the ITEs to identify IT courses that align with the 'new collar' job role. Then we map the requirement for the 'new collar' role with the IT courses and identify the additional skills required and supplement that as part of the training."

He said P-Tech fits into IBM's CSR work as "we bring the best in talent and technology to help people succeed and thrive… we have also just scratched the surface and want to continue to strengthen the development of new collar workers, increase enrolment in other sectors as well as increase collaboration with more partners.

"We see a lot of potential for other sectors where STEM-related skills are important".

Evangeline Chua, chief people officer, GovTech, said: "The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) is all about using technology to improve lives. P-Tech is aligned with our mandate, and we are glad to be part of this initiative. We GovTechies are committed to mentor these students, and help them reach their full potential. We will continue to collaborate with our partners and pave the way for students to take on jobs of the future.

Abhijit Kumta, Asean and Singapore head of operations and technology, Citi, said: "Contributing to the greater good of our society aligns with Citi's mission of enabling growth and economic progress, and is a spirit instilled in all our employees. Through our mentorship, we hope to equip students with essential skills and knowledge that will better prepare them for a technology-driven future."

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