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IBM’s P-Tech to address digital skills shortage
November 19, 2019 News


IBM’s P-Tech education model is finally in Malaysia. With Malaysian experiencing a shortage of ICT and STEM skills, the education model is expected to address this, especially in generating future employees that will be skilled in tech. Through the P-Tech model, schools and industry partners collaborate to enable students to earn recognized university-level credentials that provide a direct path to STEM careers in all industries.

IBM Malaysia signed an MoU with the Ministry of Education and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to better connect schools and industry to develop stronger academic, technical and work-ready skills among Malaysian youth.

Established in 2011 by IBM, P-Tech is currently available in 24 countries including the US, Australia, Morocco, India, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. P-Tech is expected to reach 220 schools worldwide by the end of the year, with more than 600 industry partners supporting the initiative.

In Malaysia, P-Tech students will be supported to complete a five-year structured program at high school and in tertiary education. This includes tech-related Malaysia Vocational and Malaysia Skills diplomas in applied science, engineering, computers or other in-demand STEM disciplines, while simultaneously building professional skills through mentorships, site visits and paid internships. Sixty students from Sekolah Menengah Vokasional (SMV) Sepang and SMV Sungai Buloh are expected to begin pilot programs in 2020, with IBM and MDEC as strategic partners.

Speaking at the signing of MoU, Harriet Green, CEO and Chairman of IBM Asia Pacific said, “we need the right people, with right skills at the right jobs. Not just blue- or white-collar jobs, but what we now call ‘new collar’ jobs, jobs that are about real capabilities that the world needs. These are jobs that don’t require a four-year traditional IT degree, but the right mix of technology skills and human softer skills.”

With digital transformation expected to contribute US$ 10 billion to Malaysia’s GDP by 2021, Harriet emphasized the need to ensure the total workforce has the right skills.

“The difference with P-Tech is we are giving rounded education that is both for hot technical skills like AI, Cloud, Quantum and the critical human skills that are important for both collaborations and to form innovation. It is the merging of men and machine or women and machine that augments this capability.”

Echoing her was YB Steven Sim, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports who witnessed the MoU signing ceremony. He said the government recently announced an allocation RM3 billion for digital transformation programs in the country. This includes vocational training and education for skills development.

He said, “Malaysian youth must consolidate our national duty to become relevant in the next decade in order to make the most of technology.”

The deputy minister also highlighted the importance of STEM education as it can empower young people to face the job market of future and allow the younger generation to think more holistically, especially with the recent announcement of the removal of science and arts streams in higher secondary school.

“The involvement of brands such as IBM will bring not only bring the experience and knowledge, but also the prestige that comes with the brand. Young people will be excited on meeting points with big tech brands like IBM,” he added.

Since its establishment, the achievements of P-Tech include the fast-tracking of young people into jobs that employers need. Students that go through P-Tech are work-ready and fit for jobs, because of the partnerships with industry players experience. About half of the graduates would go straight into working with the partners.

Apart from that, the program helps employers understand how to shape and coach education, and bridge the gap between government, education and business, so there is relevance on the people coming out with the skills needed.

In a nutshell, P-TECH addressed the following trends and needs:

• Many tech-related jobs go unfilled because of skills shortage
• Tech skills shortage has a broad impact, because tech is now woven into nearly all industries
• Growth of “new collar” job category, where four-year degrees are not always necessary
• Demographic disparities for education and middle-class employment
• Need for both “hard” tech expertise and “soft” workplace skills, such as collaboration and critical thinking, intellectual curiosity for lifetime job adaptability
• Disconnect between education system and private sectors
• Lack of real workplace experience when students leave school.

In Malaysia, students from the selected schools will undergo their P-Tech training at IBM’s centre in Cyberjaya. The feedback they’ve received from the students have been positive so far with many interested in pursuing more knowledge of the skills they’re learning.