Sunday 16 February 2014

USA pilots career-focused high school model similar to German and Swiss vocational schools

There is an interesting article out in this month's Time Magazine - about a new high school model called the P-Tech program (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools).

Its about getting high schools to link more closely to employers which has several benefits for the schools:

  1. more funding and sponsorships
  2. help with making the curriculum more relevant in terms of employability, and
  3. building pathways into the workplace for students to start experiencing job shadowing, work experience and internships.

The US cover is to the left and to the right is the Africa edition cover, but the article is the same in both editions and starts on page 31 in the Africa edition.

Unfortunately you have to subscribe to read the full article but I have summarised the article in some tweets below.

These developments are interesting to those of us working in the post school education and training sector because they mirror the shift towards Work Integrated Learning that we are seeing in the public TVET / FET colleges, as well as the trend towards labour market responsiveness in some of the public universities (University of Johannesburg for example).

What is surprising of course is that in the US they are taking these trends down to high school level. But then in Germany and Switzerland, the "Berufsschule" have offered youth this opportunity for a long time and these countries have among the lowest youth unemployment in the world.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training recently spoke about working more closely with his counterpart in the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on this issue of vocational learning and the technical high schools (there are questions around the overlap between the technical high schools and the TVET / FET colleges).

Perhaps this discussion needs to go deeper and include DBE reflecting on partnerships with workplaces.

Further reading

  • "Pathways to Prosperity" is a  research document published in 2011 by Harvard University with the subtitle, "Meeting the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21st century" and which provided some of the impetus for the new P-Tech approach.
  • IBM was one of the corporate sponsors of the P-Tech approach and has published a list of resources relating to it here
  • My earlier blog post on the recent White Paper on Post School Education & Training talks about the shift towards workplace learning that is evident in the new DHET vision to 2030 

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