WESTERLY, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today joined state and local officials to celebrate the opening of Westerly High School's P-TECH program. The Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (P-TECH) is designed to open new doors for high school to college and careers in advanced industries. Providence Career and Technical Academy also opened its P-TECH program today, and Rogers High School in Newport will open its P-TECH program tomorrow.
"This year, students are going back to school and setting out on a pathway to a good-paying, 21st century job. Westerly P-TECH connects students and their potential employers so that Rhode Island's young people are equipped with a better understanding of the skills they need to hit the ground running after high school and college," said Raimondo. "Education is economic development. My top education priority is ensuring that every student graduates with the skills that matter for jobs that pay, including the thousands of jobs Electric Boat will create in the next 10 years. P-TECH will help Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders compete today and into the future."
Westerly's P-TECH program is an innovative collaboration of advanced manufacturing industry partners, including Electric Boat. After completing the six-year program, students will earn a high school diploma and an Associate of Science in Advanced Manufacturing Technology degree. Students in the Newport, Providence, and Westerly P-TECH programs will also develop the skills and experiences they need to step seamlessly into Rhode Island's available jobs in key growth industries such as information technology, advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity. The state's P-TECH initiative is modeled on the nationally- recognized approach co-developed by IBM.
"To ensure that our efforts to make Rhode Island into a hub of advanced industries are successful, we have to make sure our young people graduate with the specific skills they need to fill the jobs we're bringing to the state," said Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "The P-TECH programs opening this week in Westerly, Providence and Newport promise us a pipeline of talent in the near future."
"P-TECH offers high-school students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter a six-year program, through which they can earn a high-school diploma, an associate's degree from CCRI, and first-in-line job opportunities with industry partners - a pathway that will lead them not only to career-readiness but directly into a career in a high-wage, high-demand industry," said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner.
With a founding class of ninth graders, Westerly P-TECH is a "school within a school" at Westerly High School, and is part of the Westerly Public Schools. Each of the participating districts received a $200,000 grant to implement the program within their local high schools.
"Westerly Public Schools is thrilled to be part of the Pathways in Technology Early College High school initiative," said Roy M. Seitsinger, Superintendent of Westerly Public Schools. "This is a public, higher education, and private partnership that will prepare students for jobs of the future in advanced manufacturing. Specifically, this program will include targeted technical training, enhance our students' high school learning experience, award them a high school diploma, a free Associate's Degree and an opportunity for a career in advanced industries. Our students will fully participate with CCRI and our industry partners in this workforce development initiative, and we are pleased and proud to be part of this innovative model for secondary education."
Westerly P-TECH is a public-private partnership between Electric Boat, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Community College of Rhode Island and Westerly Public Schools. The Westerly program has built a curriculum that is aligned with the skills Electric Boat needs to fulfill its mission to the U.S. Department of Defense.
"I am excited about the opportunity to welcome talented high school graduates into the classrooms of the Community College of Rhode Island," said CCRI President Meghan Hughes. "CCRI is an outstanding launch pad for educational and career advancement and we are eager to build partnerships that demonstrate the value of a CCRI education."
"In addition to marking the kickoff of the P-TECH Program at Westerly High School, today's ceremony reflects the commitment that Rhode Island, local school systems and industry have made to build the educated workforce required to compete and succeed in the 21st-century business environment," said Maura Dunn, Electric Boat Vice President for Human Resources and Administration. "Our participation in this program demonstrates the importance we place on training, education and development. We applaud Governor Raimondo and her administration for their vision in developing partnerships with businesses like Electric Boat, which will help local students acquire the job-skills they need to join Rhode Island's manufacturing sector."
"I thank Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation for bringing this innovative transformation of high school to Rhode Island," said Cathleen Finn, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Manager. "We are thrilled that the state's first P-TECH school opened today, joining P-TECH's rapid expansion to 60 schools across six states this fall. Education is key to America's economic growth and competitiveness, and clearly, a high school diploma is no longer enough. We devised P-TECH to address the nation's skills crisis, and to do so for all students, and it is already fulfilling its promise by seeing its graduates pursuing college and 21st-century careers. We're committed to helping support and grow P-TECH across the state and the nation."
The P-TECH initiative and CS4RI - the innovative effort Governor Raimondo is leading to bring computer science to every public school in the state - have helped to position Rhode Island as New England's top state for advanced industry job growth, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution.