Class of 2014 in the U.S. and China

Global Business

The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of math and science education. Many worry that if more students continue to lag in those areas, America will lose its competitive edge. However, a new type of school called P-Tech is trying to turn things around and it has the support of some very powerful people.  CCTV’s Karina Huber reports.

Class of 2014 in the U.S.

Class of 2014 in the U.S.

The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of math and science education. Many worry that if more students continue to lag in those areas, America will lose its competitive edge. Well, a new type of school called P-Tech is trying to turn things around and it has the support of some very powerful people. CCTV's Karina Huber reports.
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14-year-old Bryann Sandy is in year one of a six-year-program that combines high school, college, work experience and mentorship from one of America’s biggest companies: IBM.

Bryann Sandy, now a Brooklyn P-Tech Student, said: “So far it’s been very amazing because we get to just come here no matter what level we’re in, no matter who you are, you get a chance to kind of be successful.”

The curriculum consists of both high school and college classes. The hours are longer than at other high schools but that doesn’t deter students like Robert Graham.

Robert Graham, Brooklyn P-Tech Student, also said that “The opportunities they give us, it’s great because we can finish our associates degree while still being in high school at the same time.”

U.S. President Barack Obama is also a fan of the school. He stated: “This country should be doing everything in our power to give more kids the chance to go to schools just like this one. We should be doing everything we can to put college within the reach of more young people.”

Graduates from P-Tech get both a high school diploma and an associates degree in applied science as well as a first look from IBM when hiring.

P-Tech consulted with the tech giant to find out what skill sets they were looking for. It helped form the curriculum.

Rashid Davis, Principal of P-Tech Brooklyn, told the reporter: “You’re talking about taking students who have not been on the trajectory of thinking of themselves as college or career ready and just giving them a structure and support and providing them with the opportunities to really be competitive.”

The school aims to help under-represented people like minorities and women gain strides in science, technology, engineering and math.

The P-Tech model has caught on. By September of this year, there will be 16 of them in the state of New York. Chicago has opened five of them and Connecticut and Idaho have also jumped on board.

The results of this new approach will be seen in 2017. That’s when the first class of P-tech in Brooklyn will be graduating. Many hopes are pinned on them succeeding.

Imagine a country where every single inhabitant is in debt because they went to college. Consider the number of Americans who with student debt-more than 40 million. That’s more than the total populations of most nations on earth.

About seven million have defaulted on those debts and damaged their credit. That makes it harder for these graduates to get high-paying jobs to pay off their loans. Around 60 percent of U.S. employers run credit checks before hiring.

All that adds up to what many consider a “debt bomb.” The total U.S. student loan debt has soared from $240 billion at the start of 2003 to over $1 trillion in 2014. The average debt is around $26,000.

This trillion dollar debt is only a “bomb” if a lot of graduates default. If they don’t, it’s a “boom” of a different sort. The U.S. made about 50 billion in interest payments on government student loans in 2013. That’s almost double the 2013 profits of Royal Dutch Shell-the world’s most profitable company.

On the cost of higher education and the challenges facing today’s graduates, CCTV’s Phillp Yin is joined by Nicole Smith, Research Professor and Senior Economist at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce; and Dale J. StephensEducation expert from UnCollege in San Fransico, to discuss more.

Smith and Stephens on U.S. 2014 Graduates

Smith and Stephens on U.S. 2014 Graduates

On the cost of higher education and the challenges facing today's graduates, CCTV’s Phillp Yin is joined by Nicole Smith, Research Professor and Senior Economist at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce; and Dale J. Stephens, Education expert from UnCollege in San Fransico, to discuss more.
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Just like many of their American peers, some Chinese college students say they are not getting the proper job training. And employers say they are having a difficult time finding talent. So, China’s education officials are trying to bridge that gap with vocational schools. CCTV’s Zhang Tao spoke with a recent Shanghai Institute of Technology graduate about his experience.

College or Vocational School? Chinese Graduates Facing Challenges

College or Vocational School? Chinese Graduates Facing Challenges

Just like many of their American peers, some Chinese college students say they are not getting the proper job training. And employers say they are having a difficult time finding talent. So, China's education officials are trying to bridge that gap with vocational schools. CCTV’s Zhang Tao spoke with a recent Shanghai Institute of Technology graduate about his experience.
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Li Zhipeng enrolled as an electrical automation technology major at the Shanghai Institute of Technology in 2010. The institute offers full undergraduate degrees but also vocational school education and Li enrolled in the vocational school. His program was only three years long, and he still recalls how it began.

Li Zhipeng told the reporter: “During my first year at college, I had some very fine practical workmanship courses. We spent most of our time actually doing things. I remember I used my first machine tool in that course, and also did modelling and welding, really down to earth things. That included factory tours, and I found these skills were just what they needed, very basic things.”

Unlike students at traditional universities who might spend every day in classrooms or libraries, Li spent most of his days in the laboratory.

Li also says: “Most universities focus on academic research, but our school had a technology lab. Many students like me stayed in the lab day and night. I remember I used to stay there from 7 or 8 am to 10 pm, and I really learned a lot.”

Li was a prize-winner at school, and wound up designing circuits for traffic lights, vehicles, and computer displays. Some of his designs are in commercial use now. He found his first job as an electronics engineer before graduating in 2013, and he says few of his classmates had trouble finding a job. Li has worked with academic-level graduates from top universities and found they often prefer to work on isolated problems.

When talking about his experience working with university graduates, Li said: “Once they were working on an online remote control monitoring system. I found they spent a lot of time working on the base level internet protocol. This is something very specific, and I checked what they had done and found it was impossible to build the monitoring system from the base level protocol. University graduates pay attention to every little detail, but they tend not to control the bigger picture. I think that for practical technology, it’s not about how you dig into small issue, it’s about how to put them together, to put that academic knowledge to real use.”

From his third year in school, Li and his classmates started bidding on electronic projects from commercial companies, and winning some of them.

Li started setting up his own company at the end of his last year in college. Back then, he had two or three projects in hand, and his other classmates also had a couple. So they decided to work together and registered a company. They’ve now got four projects under way, and they’ll get into production this year.