IB Career-Related Programme (IBCP)

About the Project

This project is one of the 2014 WISE Awards finalists.

The IBCP combines challenging academic coursework, a career-related program, and relevant learning experiences to prepare students for further or higher education, specialized training and careers. The IBCP consists of a minimum of two rigorous Diploma Program (DP) courses, core requirements, and a career-related program offered by their schools. It is studied during the last two years of secondary school. Consistent with the IB’s mission, the IBCP fosters international awareness, promoting an international outlook and intercultural understanding. By combining rigorous academic work with a school’s career-related program, the IBCP provides a unique and rich pathway for students, allowing them to add to the skills needed for successful careers and the lifelong learning required today. Schools offer a minimum of two academically challenging IB DP courses assessed and benchmarked internationally. 

The IBCP core requirements include critical thinking, community service, language development and a reflective project. Globally, there are over 1,000 students in 73 schools across 14 countries studying the IBCP program.  Of the students completing the IBCP, schools report that 70 percent are going on to further or higher education or training with many not having considered it an option before, and 29 percent are going into careers.

Context and Issue

Worldwide, the rate of youth unemployment (ages 15 to 24) is 13 percent, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), and this is increasing. The population in this age group is projected to grow, amplifying the youth employment crisis. At the same time, employers report that vacancies remain unfilled because they cannot find individuals with the right skills. Addressing this skills gap in the labor market requires dramatic changes to the traditional approaches of career and vocational education.  By offering a unique program, like the IBCP, a greater number of students will leave school with skills they need to enter careers successfully.

Solution and Impact

The IBCP responds to the need to address youth unemployment and the skills gap, combining strong academic content with skills education, such as vocational, technical or other career programs. A 2013 ILO report identifies four core skills to address youth employability: learning to learn, communication, teamwork, and problem solving. These are acquired through deep content knowledge, rather than taught independently. The IBCP supports the acquisition of these skills through this approach in the DP courses and the IBCP core. IBCP educators use pedagogical methods that support student engagement and motivation, raising students’ aspirations for their future success.

The IBCP promotes a blend of cognitive, applied and social-emotional learning within a framework of three interconnected components. The three components are:

  • A minimum of two rigorous IB DP courses; 
  • The IBCP core requirements designed to foster cognitive, applied and social-emotional learning with opportunities to apply these skills in different contexts; and 
  • A local career-related program, which may be vocational, technical or pre-university.

Through the IBCP vocational students access a broad, flexible education that will give them the knowledge, practical skills, intellectual engagement and international awareness not otherwise possible in such programs. IBCP students develop higher-order cognitive skills and academic behaviors that enhance their employability but also dramatically alter their world view. As of July 2013, 297 students had completed the IBCP program. Globally, schools report that the vast majority of IBCP graduates (99 percent) have continued on to further or higher education, careers or specialized training.

Future Developments

In October 2013 the IB held a global summit on career-related education with experts from around the world.  From that summit the IB has articulated several strategic priorities that it will pursue over the next five years, including bridging the academic and vocational divide, using new research on cognition in pedagogy and practice, and developing new workshops for professional development of educators. The IB will undertake a full review of the IBCP model and its curriculum. Finally the IBCP will be expanded over the next five years to include a broader group of schools beyond the 73 that are currently implementing it.

The IB will support the growth in the number of schools offering the IBCP through the regional development teams located in Singapore, The Hague, the Netherlands, and Bethesda, Maryland in the US, which will make the growth of IBCP a priority in their respective regions. These teams support schools in applying for authorization and obtaining the services and resources they need. The curriculum review will take place from 2014 to 2016. In this review a team of IB curriculum experts will research and analyze the components of the IBCP to ensure the program’s effectiveness. Following the review, IBCP managers will develop a plan for implementing the recommendations from the review team.

April 26, 2014 (last update 12-31-2020)