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P-TECH, Open P-TECH, SkillsBuild equip workforce for new collar jobs

By: Patricia Mirasol

Slug: IBM equips the global workforce for ‘new collar jobs,’ or jobs that require specialized skills but don’t necessarily require traditional four-year degrees, through free programs such as P-TECH, Open P-TECH, and SkillsBuild.

IBM continues to equip the global workforce for “new collar” jobs, or jobs that require specialized skills but don’t necessarily require traditional four-year degrees, through its free P-TECH, Open P-TECH, and SkillsBuild programs. “New collar” careers include those in the areas of cybersecurity, design thinking, and mainframe administration.

Learning pathway

Students enrolled at P-TECH, a school program that complements the K-12 system, learn topics related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), along with programming languages like Java and Python. In the Philippines, IBM has partnered with Taguig City University and welcomed another 110 students to the program’s fold last October, bringing the total number of enrolled students to 170.

Abigail Lesaca, P-TECH liaison, in an interview with BusinessWorld, said that participants are also exposed to discussions on ethics, critical thinking, and a better awareness of the world through modules such as “Ethics in AI (artificial intelligence): Can you crack the moral code?” and “Explorations into Mindfulness.”

“We are in discussion with the DepEd NCR (Department of Education – National Capital Region) for the possible implementation of P-TECH in some NCR public schools,” said Andrea Escalona, IBM Philippines’ corporate social responsibility country leader. She added that the company is in talks as well with the Development Academy of the Philippines and other industry associations, with the goal of having industry partners adopt the P-TECH model.

Schools that aren’t yet part of P-TECH, meanwhile, can utilize resources from Open P-TECH, a free online learning platform launched earlier this year for teachers and students at the high school and college levels. Digital badges are offered to students that complete the platform’s courses in data science, blockchain, and cloud computing.

Professional upskilling 

Although developed with students in mind, everyone can avail of Open P-TECH’s offerings. “It is open to the public and can be a resource for those who have very little background in emerging technologies,” Ms. Escalona said. “It is also for those who are looking to learn about professional topics, particularly for working professionals who want to level up or re-skill, or are just plain curious. Simply create an account on the platform and you’re good to go.”

SkillsBuild is another platform that job seekers, entrepreneurs, and job-seekers can turn to for professional development. Credentials are likewise available for those who complete courses offered in customer service, data analysis, and web development.

According to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2020, skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. Companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling. Ninety-four percent of business leaders also expect employees to pick up new skills on the job.

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