Dive Brief:

  • Creating diversity in the technology field can begin with preparing students for STEM careers at an early age, according to IBM. The tech giant is offering 1,000 paid internships to students and graduates of its Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program, IBM announced July 20. The internship program will run through Dec. 31, 2021. 
  • IBM’s P-TECH program, established in 2011, is a public education model that provides an opportunity, at no cost, for students to earn both their high school diploma and a two–year associate degree linked to STEM fields such as cybersecurity. The company usually has about 150 interns a year from P-TECH. In the expansion, the paid internship program is a 10-time incremental increase from the company’s most recent internship goals, according to IBM.
  • “Today, 220 P-TECH schools are serving 150,000 students worldwide, with a heavy focus on students of color in educationally underserved areas in the United States,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to Congress in June. “From Brooklyn to Chicago, from Dallas to Baltimore, these schools are creating real opportunities and real jobs for young people today.”

Dive Insight:

IBM’s increase in internships comes at a time when internship hiring has decreased amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three-quarters of respondents in a College Reaction survey of 822 students April 10 to April 12 said the internships or post-graduate jobs they secured had been canceled, moved remote or delayed. The survey also found that the majority (71%) said they were concerned about job and internship opportunities, and almost all of the respondents (90%) were at least moderately concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy and employment opportunities. An April 28 report by Glassdoor found that internship hiring on the platform in April 2020 decreased by 39% compared to April 2019.

IBM’s P-TECH internship program aims to provide technology training for future generations of employees at the company. The apprentices at IBM will spend much of the year learning about corporate culture, and acquiring more technology skills aided by managers who provide coaching, Joel C. Mangan, IBM’s executive director for P-TECH, said according to a company blog post

Krishna’s letter to Congress outlined a policy proposal to advance racial equality in the U.S. He called on lawmakers to consider national policies to expand the number and reach of programs such as P-TECH and Pell Grants, “an important pathway for students of color to go to college,” he said. In the context of addressing responsible use of technology by law enforcement, Krishna also shared that IBM no longer offers its general purpose facial recognition and analysis software products.

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