IBM announced it is introducing education initiatives with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Specialisterne Foundation, and six Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) to provide no-cost STEM job training to U.S. military veterans, neurodivergent learners worldwide, and university students from underrepresented communities in the U.S.
In 2020, Manpower Group found that the talent shortage in the U.S. has more than tripled over 10 years, with 69% of employers surveyed struggling to fill skilled positions, up from just 14% in 2010. By September 2021, there were more than 1.2 million U.S. job vacancies postings in software-related professions, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.
“We believe that the most promising job candidates for today’s demanding careers will come from communities that may have been historically overlooked or excluded due to outdated hiring policies and old-fashioned credentialling,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, vice president, IBM corporate social responsibility and ESG. “That’s why we’re uniting the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors to cultivate STEM talent from underrepresented communities to address the world’s most critical challenges.”
IBM SkillsBuild will be an enhanced resource for transitioning service members who are seeking job training and credentials through the VA to pursue a career after completing their military service. Together with the VA’s Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) Employer Consortium, IBM will help military veterans to pursue customized learning paths and other accelerated, non-traditional job training for high-demand technology careers. The Department of Defense estimates that 250,000 Service members transition annually to veteran status.
IBM SkillsBuild offers more than 1,000 online courses, and shareable badges upon their successful completion, on topics ranging from professional workplace proficiencies to technical skills for many industries, roles, and technologies, including hybrid cloud computing, AI, cybersecurity, data analytics, help desk, and project management. It also offers access to mentors, resume-building projects, as well as partner-led job fairs and job referrals. As of February 2022, IBM SkillsBuild has helped 1.72 million students and job seekers globally to complete 4 million learning hours in cybersecurity, data analysis, and other technical disciplines.
In 2021, IBM said it would partner with HBCUs to establish Cybersecurity Leadership Centers, with the goal of building a more diverse U.S. cyber workforce. Following up on that promise, IBM is announcing the first six of more than 20 Cybersecurity Leadership Centers with the following HBCUs and HBCU systems: North Carolina A&T State University, Southern University System, Clark Atlanta University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Morgan State University, South Carolina State University.
Participant universities will have access to a customized, multi-year cybersecurity experience with IBM, including cybersecurity curricula, cloud access, and an immersive learning experience to expand HBCUs’ capacity to develop top talent in the cybersecurity sector.
IBM will develop for each HBCU, a customized IBM Security Learning Academy portal—IBM client offering—including courses designed to help the university enhance its cybersecurity education portfolio. In addition, IBM will continue to give access to IBM Academic Programs.
The HBCUs’ faculty and students will have an opportunity to benefit from IBM Security’s Command Center, through which they can experience a realistic, simulated cyberattack, designed to prepare them and train them on response techniques. Moreover, the HBCUs’ faculty will have access to consultation sessions with IBM technical personnel on cybersecurity.
IBM will provide faculty and students with no-cost access to multiple SaaS IBM Cloud environments.
In addition, together with the Specialisterne Foundation, IBM SkillsBuild will be tailored to the job training needs of neurodivergent individuals across 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, UK, U.S.). Specialisterne Foundation helps harness the talents of autistic persons and those with profiles such ADHD, OCD, and dyslexia.