It’s no secret that technology innovations are changing so rapidly that some companies can’t find sufficient qualified employees.
According to CompTIA, more than half of businesses worldwide are concerned about the quality and quantity of IT talent available for hire. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2015, Big Data will generate 1.9 million IT jobs in the U.S. and that only one-third of them will be filled compared to an average growth rate of 10.8 percent for all occupations.
Now SAP has launched an initiative to put more high school students and young adults directly on technology career paths that lead to jobs. Called B-TECH (Business Technology Early College High School), this ground-breaking program is the result of a partnership between the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York, and Queensborough Community College.
Students who attend this new 9-14 school will receive both a high school diploma and Associate’s Degree at no cost upon graduation. The curriculum combines technical, design, and communication courses, along with mentoring, job shadowing, apprenticeships, and internships. Graduates will have opportunities for employment at SAP or in the many companies worldwide that run SAP software.
I spoke with B-TECH’s principal and one of the teachers who were attending SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s largest annual customer event in Orlando, Florida, this week. They described why they’re excited about the school and what students will achieve.
Learning opportunities for faculty and students
Principal Hoa Tu is an 18-year veteran of the public school system in New York City. This program will be her second stint as a principal. “The B-TECH model adds multiple layers of opportunities for learning among teachers and students. The game-changer is that we have folks at the table who are not only committed to the model, but committed to the learning of the individual to make sure that we are delivering on what we promise: job-ready, prepared, desirable employees in 2020.”
Students are selected based on their demonstrated interest in the school’s theme and program which encompasses both business acumen and technological expertise. This approach also distinguishes B-TECH from standard high schools. “We’re intentionally teaching skills that are key to employment such as dependability, reliability, communication, and critical thinking. These are being integrated across technical content areas.”
There are two majors that lead to associate degrees in either computer information systems or internet technology. All course content is fully aligned with the job demands of SAP systems in real life, specifically sales and pre-sales and software development.
SAP mentors everyone with a real-world education
Tu is particularly excited about the learning possibilities for her faculty and students. “We are connecting the classroom experience directly to the world of work. Working together with SAP and the colleges, we’ve developed a curriculum that provides the skills and competencies required of students to graduate and fill jobs.”
B-TECH is also partnering with the SAP University Alliances program to understand how to use SAP software in classrooms. “We want to know the places where we can use SAP HANA, when do we use cloud, or introduce mobile technology. SAP is also connecting us to their partners, serving as a phenomenal resource to augment the educational experience we can bring to students.”
Niobe Hayes, Instructional Support Specialist and Lead Teacher at B-TECH, is looking forward to applying SAP’s methodologies across the educational process. “Something like the design thinking process that SAP employees use to solve problems, we’d like to apply that to our classroom instruction at our school. We can learn it and explain to students, this is how decisions are made in industry, and why this methodology is important to understand.”
B-TECH teachers and students will use SAP Jam, the company’s cloud-based collaborative platform. The school is also exploring using SuccessFactors to manage student performance and map progress to job goals throughout their six-year education.
Demystifying how to get a job
As for student response, Tu says that B-TECH has already exceeded its goal to attract 100 students per year for its first graduating class, and is accepting enrollment applications for 2015. She credits high student interest with B-TECH’s inherent practicality. “We’re demystifying how to get that job, giving students the soft skills, technological knowledge, and experience to build their resume starting on day one.”
Fast-paced innovation in technology calls for equally transformational strategies to quickly educate a workforce qualified to get the job done. B-TECH promises to deliver that one stop shop for both private and public sectors.
Follow me @smgaler