Irish Government Launches P-TECH Pilot to boost students’ opportunities in the Digital Economy

16th November, 2018

  • An Taoiseach, the Minster for Education and Skills and the Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform announce the piloting of P-TECH (Pathways in Technology) in Dublin’s North East Inner City to give local students a career pathway in the digital economy.
  • This new 6-year education model seeks to integrate third-level modules and workplace experience with secondary schooling with the intention of this leading to a third–level qualification.
  • P-TECH students will gain highly relevant workplace skills, such as collaboration, communication and creativity as well as professional and technical skills.
  • Enrolment of new students will begin in March 2019, with the first classes to start in September 2019, at three participating schools.
  • P-TECH was first developed in 2011 in Brooklyn, New York, by IBM and local educators. Since that time, P-TECH has grown to more than 100 schools across the US and other countries, with more than 500 businesses participating. Ireland is the first country in Europe to adopt the model.


An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., today launched the piloting of a new education initiative in Dublin’s North East Inner City. Pathways in Technology or ‘P-TECH’ aims to tackle educational disadvantage and increase the numbers of students either finding employment in entry level digital skills roles or progressing to higher education.


The P-TECH Programme is a public education initiative that combines secondary school education with elements of third level education and work experience and is in line with the proposed actions outlined in the Mulvey Report[1]to align education, training and employment activation efforts”.

It is directly aligned to job opportunities in the digital economy[2].


Speaking at the launch An Taoiseach said, “The P-TECH School model directly addresses education, disadvantage and workforce development issues. It is an integrated educational model aimed at getting students career-ready. The Department of Education and Skills is supporting schools and colleges through innovative education systems and policies such as this pilot, so we can grow into a workforce with the capability required for our society in the 21st Century.”


The first schools in Ireland to participate in the P-Tech pilot will be Larkin Community College, Marino College and St Joseph’s CBS, Dublin. The National College of Ireland will be the initial third-level education partner. IBM, Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life will participate as the first industry partners.


Speaking at the launch, the Minister for Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D., said, “I want to thank IBM for bringing this Programme to Irish schools, and to pay tribute to them and companies such as Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life in making a serious commitment to pupils in Dublin’s North East Inner City, which has great potential to enhance their lives and their futures. Their involvement will provide a unique and valuable insight into the world of technology for the students participating and, ultimately, a real opportunity to pursue careers in this field”.


Also speaking at the launch, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D., said “The pilot P-Tech Initiative provides a unique opportunity for students in the participating schools to be pioneers in this Programme, to experience third level education and to leave post-primary school career-ready and with higher and further education and training opportunities open to them. I believe that this initiative will provide pupils with the confidence and skills necessary to pursue careers in the highly competitive digital technology sector. I wish them and all involved every success in this exciting venture”.


Paul Farrell, Country Manager of IBM Ireland, said “I’m very proud that IBM has been able to bring the PTECH model to Ireland, and with the help of the schools, colleges and the Department of Education and Skills, adapt it to work in the Irish educational context”. “I’m delighted that Cisco, Virgin Media, Irish Water and Irish Life are participating as industry partners for the schools, and I hope that other leading companies will join us in this initiative over the coming months,” he added.


Michael Stone, Chair of the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board also expressed his delight at this new initiative stating “I was honoured to have been asked to chair the Programme Implementation Board and it is great to see the initiation of this Programme in schools in the North East Inner City.  I would like to thank all those who made that possible. Kieran Mulvey, the person responsible for the “”Creating a Brighter Future” report on Dublin’s North East Inner City had the hope that the Report would assist in creating a new start and developing a new approach for the betterment of this community and should contribute and assist towards resolving the particular and difficult challenges which they face on a daily basis.  I believe that the introduction of the P-Tech Programme is fully in keeping with that vision.”



In June 2016 the Government launched a major initiative to oversee the long term social and economic regeneration of the Dublin North East Inner City (NEIC) area. Kieran Mulvey was appointed to engage with local groups and to report back with recommendations. The Dublin North East Inner City Creating a Brighter Future was published in February 2017 and recommended a number of new structures and appointments to lead this work.

NEIC Programme Implementation Board (PIB)


Established in June 2017 and led by an independent chair, Michael Stone, the Board comprises the key Government Departments and Agencies who have statutory responsibility for delivery of key services and accountability for the expenditure of funds related to priority areas in the North East Inner City project. The Programme Implementation Board has established four working sub groups reflecting the priority areas for actions. Each group has been assigned the relevant actions from the Mulvey Report. The sub groups have representation from the community and business sectors.


P-TECH (P-TECH: Pathway in Technology Early College High School) 


A group of past pupils of some North East Inner City (NEIC) post primary schools approached the Minister for Education and Skills, An Taoiseach and the NEIC taskforce to examine the possibility of adapting the IBM P-Tech initiative in the Irish Education system.


Officials from the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Taoiseach held meetings with IBM and the North East P-Tech Schools Initiative in order to develop an approach which is tailored for the Irish education system. This Programme will be implemented as part of the Dublin North East Inner City Initiative (NEIC).


Established by IBM in 2011 in Brooklyn, New York, in the US, P-TECH focuses on creating a direct path between high school, college, and career. P-TECH demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in strengthening education and reinvigorating local economies. 


Since its establishment in New York in 2011, P-TECH has grown to over 110 schools in six US states and 4 other countries, involving more than 10,000 students. More than 500 companies in sectors like technology, finance, medical, manufacturing, and energy, are partners in the. To date, over 150 students have graduated, of which 20 have joined IBM for regular jobs, with more than half choosing to go on to complete bachelors degrees. IBM directly supports nine P-TECH schools and is leading the strategy and technical support of the entire industry network. More information about P-TECH can be found at the link.


P-TECH has three goals:

  1. To provide youth with an innovative and highly relevant education that enables them to enjoy an enriching educational experience and to earn a third-level qualification, along with the skills required to continue their education or to enter into competitive digital technology careers.
  2. To realise the potential of students by instilling a unique culture built upon ambition and high expectations for students and adults alike, so that the students see themselves as “college students” and “on a career pathway” from the moment they begin the P-TECH Programme.
  3. To address the “skills gap” and strengthen the economy by building a digital ready workforce with the technical and professional skills required for 21st Century jobs.


While the primary point of entry is 2nd Year of secondary school, the participating schools will offer taster activities to 1st Year students. P-TECH is open to all students of all backgrounds and abilities in the participating schools, with no exam or entrance requirements. The Programme will support students in earning qualifications together with the work experience needed to be a highly qualified candidate for employment in IT and related areas and to have an opportunity to participate in Further and Higher Education. The Programme offered to P-TECH students will be free of charge to students and their families.
P-TECH includes a structured workplace learning strand, with mentoring, worksite visits, speakers, project days, skills-based and paid internships. P-TECH students who have achieved the educational goals will be “first in line” for consideration for suitable jobs with the Industry Partners. P-TECH will start in September 2019, with enrolment of the first students taking place in early 2019.

[1]Dublin North East Inner City – Creating a Brighter Future” published in February 2017

[2] Digital economy jobs include some of the technology industry’s fastest growing fields, from cybersecurity and cloud computing to cognitive business and digital design, which may not require a university degree, but that may need a specific skillset instead.