Three New Jersey high schools, including Panther Academy in Paterson, are part of a new initiative to prepare students for what’s called “new collar” jobs, announced governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday afternoon.
Students in the P-TECH (Pathway in Technology Early College High School) program will graduate with a high school diploma, associate degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field, and workplace experience within six years.
“Students will gain practical workplace experience and walk out with the credentials for a good career and a foothold in the middle class,” said Murphy at Panther Academy. “By providing students with the skills needed for these high-wage, high-skill jobs, New Jersey is strengthening its talent base to remain economically competitive for years to come.”
The P-TECH model was co-developed by IBM. It is similar to the apprenticeship model prevalent in Germany, said Murphy, former ambassador to European country. The program at Panther Academy will be run in partnership with IBM and the Passaic County Community College.
“This is not just any college degree. This is a degree that’s aligned with labor market standards in a competitive STEM field,” said Grace Suh, vice president of education at IBM. “These are jobs that require more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a four-year degree. Some of the fastest growing jobs are in the new collar fields: cybersecurity, cloud computing, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare.”
Suh said each student will be paired with an industry mentor. Students will be placed in paid internships with industry partners. Graduates will be first in line for jobs with industry partners, she said.
Murphy’s administration has set aside $900,000 for the initiative. $400,000 from state and $500,000 from a federal grant. Each school will receive $300,000.
A school will have 25 to 30 students in its P-TECH program.
“The P-TECH grant will create a new type of high school program,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer. “All students really need is to be curious, interested, and willing to work.”
School board member Jonathan Hodges asked Murphy about the state’s funding commitment to the program.
“This is not an in and out shot,” said Murphy. He said the program will be funded through the duration of his administration.
Murphy said the state selected the three schools – Panther Academy, New Brunswick High School, and Burlington City High School – based on need. New Brunswick’s corporate partner will be Edwards Engineering and Burlington’s corporate partner will be Centryco Inc.
“This initiative capitalizes on the collaboration of schools, businesses, and community colleges,” said state education commissioner Lamont Repollet. “In the end, young people in traditionally underserved communities will benefit with new pathways to success in high-demand STEM fields.”
The program starts in the 2019-20 school year.