What is the IB career-related programme?

We take a look at the IB’s vocational alternative to the standard diploma

Joshua Morris

An IB CRP student in a vocational setting

The International Baccalaureate career-related programme (IBCP) focuses on vocational skills and hands-on experience for students aged 16-19.

As the name suggests, the IBCP centres on career-related study. It also draws from aspects of the IB diploma with an aim of creating a programme that develops students’ intercultural understanding and puts them on the path to work.

It began its life as the IB career-related certificate (IBCC) in 2006, and was relaunched as the IBCP in 2014. Now there are more than 220 schools offering the IBCP in 23 countries.

The CP core

The IBCP is a three-part educational framework. It requires students to study at least two DP courses, while also taking part in the CP core and career-related studies.

The IBCP core consists of four areas; language development, personal and professional skills, a reflective project and service learning.

Language development

The CP requires study of an additional language as part of its push to prepare students for an international world of business. Giving students the ability to communicate in more than one language means they are better able to understand their peers across the globe.

Students are expected to dedicate 50 hours to language development, and they demonstrate their ability and engagement with this component by maintaining a language portfolio.

Reflective project

The reflective project is an assessed, research-based body of work that culminates in either a 3,000-word written essay, or a 1,500- to 2,000-word essay accompanied by an additional format (film, oral presentation, interview, play or display) on their chosen issue.

The reflective project develops and tests students’ ability to plan and conduct research, draw conclusions using their analysis and reflect on that process.

Engaging with that thinking using creativity, activity and personal inquiry develops the personal and professional skills needed beyond the programme at university and at work.

Service learning

Service learning is designed to give students the opportunity to apply their learning in a practical sense, serving a community need. Through service learning, students use their knowledge and social skills to take on problems that have a connection to their career-related study.

There are four different types of service in action:

  • Direct service.
  • Indirect service.
  • Advocacy.
  • Research.

The service learning component could take many forms, from volunteering to developing a solution to a local environmental issue, coaching a sports team or working with animals. Overall, 50 hours is expected to be dedicated to service learning.

Personal and professional skills

The personal and professional skills element is designed for students to develop attitudes, skills and strategies to be applied to personal and professional situations and contexts.

The IBCP course emphasises skills development for the workplace. The IB offers a guide to the qualities that the personal and professional skills element should develop. These are;

  • Personal development.
  • Intercultural understanding.
  • Effective communication.
  • Thinking processes.
  • Applied ethics.

Each school designs its own unique professional skills course that enables its particular students to make links to their career-related studies.

This element requires a minimum of 90 timetabled hours and the school is responsible for assessment.

Career-related studies

At the end of their career-related studies, students receive a certification awarded by the career-related study provider in their chosen field of study.

The IBCP collaborates with providers of major career-related qualifications, such as Pearson, for BTEC qualifications, which are used as the career-related study component portion of the IBCP.

The DP element

Students study a minimum of two IBDP courses as part of the IBCP. These courses can be studied at standard or higher level, and a student can study more than two if it suits their career-related studies and timetable.

The courses are selected by the school from six subject groups;

  • Language acquisition.
  • Studies in language and literature.
  • Individuals and societies.
  • Sciences.
  • Mathematics.
  • The arts.

The DP courses chosen should complement each student’s career-related studies, so that they can develop academic and professional skills together, connecting those skill sets.

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Joshua Morris

Joshua Morris

Joshua Morris is staff writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @joshua_tes

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