A global alliance aimed at educating and empowering youth to become the next generation to enter the information and communication technologies (ICT) workforce was announced today in Barcelona, Spain, at Cisco’s Internet of Things World Forum..

Established in response to a growing demand for workers in this field, the Global STEM Alliance will be modeled after the New York Academy of Science’s Afterschool STEM Mentoring program, which connects graduate students with school children in 4th to 8th grade to encourage their educational progress in STEM-related fields (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Since its establishment in fall 2010, the program has brought more than 600 mentors to dozens of after-school programs in New York City, Newark, N.J., Albany, N.Y., and Utica, N.Y.

The Global STEM Alliance is designed to link the NYAS program to locations around the world using online platforms and other technologies provided by Cisco. The first to join the Global STEM Alliance are the city of Barcelona and Malaysia. Partners in those regions include companies and universities who will provide mentors for local youth, so that mentors will not be exclusively remote.

Malaysia has a head start, having already worked with NYAS in the past year to build local in-country STEM mentoring programs, with more than 300 participants currently involved.

In order to bridge the gender gap in STEM subjects worldwide, the local partners in Malaysia and Barcelona will have the opportunity to extend the reach of the program specifically to girls-only programs, like the Girl Scouts of the USA, to create a more focused reach.

About the Author: Julianne Chiaet is the online editorial intern at Scientific American. Follow her on Twitter @JuliChiaet