CAREER-READY. The Valenzuela City government signs a memorandum of agreement with IBM Philippines to launch the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools program on Thursday (May 27, 2021). Mayor Rex Gatchalian (top left) and other local officials were present in the virtual ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Valenzuela-PIO)

MANILA – Valenzuela’s local government on Thursday signed a memorandum of agreement with IBM Philippines to ensure a career-ready future for students in the city.

The city government committed to provide funds and materials to support students through the IBM's Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program.

It also targets to bring partners in local industries on board, ensuring employment for its younger population.

Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the partnership would strengthen the holistic approach of the city government's existing programs on education, particularly on emerging technology learning.

“IBM’s P-TECH program is strongly aligned with our Education 360 Degrees Investment Program, which aims to deliver holistic quality and inclusive education to our citizens,” Gatchalian said during the virtual ceremony.

IBM will provide technical assistance to the city government's P-TECH Model involving Skills Mapping, Work-Based Learning, Mentoring, and Internships.

It will also launch a free online learning platform, called Open P-TECH, for students and teachers.

“I am excited to see how this program will help ignite our youth’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and improve our local education system’s capacities to produce the much-needed, job-ready talents required by industries,” Gatchalian said.

The program will cover students from Grades 11 to 14 and help graduating students get an advanced level national certification from the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for free.

It also targets to support students with an associate degree in college across in-demand jobs, such as Advanced Manufacturing, Packaging, Electronics, Automotive, or HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industries.

"Working within the industry while learning helps students gain early exposure and credentials to be competitive in STEM and new collar careers, which are some of the fastest-growing fields in technology requiring more than a high school diploma but not necessarily a university degree," said Aileen Judan-Jiao, president and country general manager of IBM Philippines.

To date, the P-TECH model can be found in more than 266 schools in 28 countries.

More than 600 businesses in technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, and other industries across the world are participating as IBM's P-TECH industry partners.

"We know there is an urgent need for a sustainable pool of skilled STEM talent, which is why we’re grateful to the city government of Valenzuela for partnering with us to expand the P-TECH Philippines,” Jiao said.

"We’re also calling on more like-minded partners to join us and open doors for more students to gain the skills they will need for the jobs of the future."

Valenzuela City logged the majority of its registered businesses in production and manufacturing.

The city government said the P-TECH program would complement the objective of Valenzuela's Senior High School-to-College-to-Industry Program to increase the pool of skilled talents in STEM. (PNA)