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The SchoolsCompared Expert Opinion – October 2021: “The IB Career-related Programme: why more, and more, schools are introducing it – and why it’s such a valuable option for students.”
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The SchoolsCompared Expert Opinion – October 2021:

“The IB Career-related Programme

Why more, and more, schools are introducing it – and why it’s such a valuable option for students.”

Photograph of Mariona Coderch Lopéz, IB Career-related Programme Coordinator, GEMS International School – Al Khail

Mariona Coderch Lopéz, IB Career-related Programme Lead, GEMS International School – Al Khail. “Care, knowledge, passion for support, and consistency […] Mariona is the type of teacher that students don’t forget.” Paul Russell Fulce. Principal. Ector County ESD. Texas. USA.


Background – The International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) launched its Career-related Programme (CP) in 2012. It did so in order to meet the needs of a wider group of students, appealing to those that may already have a specific career in mind, a particular passion they’re eager to pursue, or a skillset they want to enhance. In 2017, there were 200 schools in the world offering the CP, and the growth has been exponential ever since. In just four years, that number has increased to 299, and today there are many more schools that are well on the way to CP accreditation – as is the case at my own school, GEMS International School – Al Khail, which started offering the CP from September.


Meeting the needs of Students.

The reason behind the CP’s increasing popularity lies in its many advantages for students. The programme offers an interesting balance between academics and career-focused studies that integrate both rigour and applied skills that allow students to finish high school with a profile that’s attractive to both universities and employers. For many schools, introducing the CP has given students the opportunity to select an alternative pathway to the IB Diploma Programme (DP) – one that takes a somewhat different academic approach while still keeping the famed IB Learner Profile at its core.


Career, skill – and talent focus.

While the IBDP is a holistic pathway in which students take on six courses from different subject groups, the IBCP is a specialised pathway designed for students who have already identified a specific passion or skillset they want to pursue, and it still leads students into higher university education. In this way, the CP provides a unique combination of rigour through the IBDP course selection, while simultaneously introducing hands-on professional skills and experience in a specific field of interest. This is extremely valuable for students who already have a greater sense of what they want to do after school.


IB Career-related Programme course and pathways structure.

IB Career-related Programme Pathways and Subjects

The CP revolves around the Career-related Subject that students select. This subject can come in the form of various approaches, depending on the interests of the student body at a given school – from university dual enrolment programmes offered in collaboration with world-class specialised universities such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University or Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, to UK National Level 3 iBTECs. IBCP students also select two to four IBDP subjects to complement their CP studies as part of the curriculum. For example, an IBCP Business student might also study DP Economics, DP Psychology and DP Language and Literature.


The IB Core – the Heart of the Career-related Programme.

At the heart of the IBCP lies the Core, which includes the Personal and Professional Skills course that focuses on lifelong skills that students will need in the workplace and in their contributions to society as global citizens. This includes practical elements such as job interview practice, creating a CV, and how best to make difficult decisions around ethical dilemmas in a professional setting. The Core also includes Language Development of a non-native language, Service Learning and the Reflective Project. The latter allows students to investigate a real-world issue in the field of their choice, and to develop possible solutions to the problem. The nature of the Reflective Project allows students to perfect a wealth of valuable skills such as research, communication and critical thinking. It is in the Core of the IBCP that universities and employers find intrinsic value in the curriculum.


Impact and Opening Doors to University and Industry. 

According to the IB, there were 1,088 universities across 35 different countries that accepted applications from CP students between 2015 and 2019, with over 750 of these institutions in the United States, 150 in the United Kingdom, 33 in Canada, 26 in the Netherlands, 18 in Australia and 12 in Switzerland.

IB Career Related Programme Destinations - in Deamnd by employers and universities

Fast forward to today, and more and more universities are showing interest in CP candidates, as they recognise the enormous value it brings to students, developing them into specialists in their field at a young age, while still empowering them with academic rigour and inculcating them with the attributes of the IB Learner Profile.


Notes for parents

Read more on the IB Career-related Programme at GEMS International School.

Read our independent review for parents of GEMS International School Al Khail.

© and GEMS Education. All rights of the author reserved. 2021.

About The Author
Mariona Coderch Lopéz
After years of pursuing a successful career in communication and marketing, Ms. Mariona Coderch Lopéz decided to find a more meaningful life path by dedicating herself to becoming an educator. Ms. Coderch Lopéz holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education Specialized in Humanities from Universidad de Navarra and is currently the IB Career-related Programme Coordinator at GEMS International School Al Khail in Dubai. Ms. Coderch Lopéza believes that school should "open doors for students and provide tools for them to be successful in whatever they set their minds and hearts to." Ms. Coderch Lopéz is passionate about the IB and is an experienced DP Psychology Assistant Examiner as well as DP Psychology teacher and CP Personal and Professional Skills teacher. Prior to introducing the Career-related Programme at GIS, she worked closely with the DP Coordinator as DP Grade Leader. Previously, she also taught DP Economics, Theory of Knowledge, MYP Individuals & Societies as well as US-curriculum Social Studies. As a big advocate for service learning and the importance of giving back to others, Ms. Coderch Lopéz also served as Community Service Coordinator at an international school in Barcelona.

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