Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

IBM invests in education to boost workforce development


This week, I had the honor of speaking at JFF Horizons about the importance of a skills-first approach to workforce development. My team and I at IBM work on this every day because we are committed to investing in the future of work, with a focus on underrepresented communities. It was inspiring to hear from many other thought leaders championing this movement, as well as some IBM partners who are assisting us in driving progress in developing the ecosystem required to advance a skills-first approach.

When we look at the state of hiring today, we know that many talented individuals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that companies seek, but the system we have does not work well for either applicants or employers. We require a modernized system in which learners' credentials are portable, verifiable, and use common frameworks, thereby increasing their value and accessibility to employers and academic institutions.

This has been a source of concern for some time, but it is gaining prominence as companies struggle to hire. According to surveys, talent shortages in the United States have reached a 10-year high, and this shortage is even worse among tech workers, with over 1.2 million U.S. job vacancies in software-related professions.

To address this quandary, businesses must look beyond the old paradigm of skills vs. degrees and develop an integrated system of training, credentials, and degrees that meets the needs of both individuals and employers. One that recognises that people's school-to-work journey is not a straight line, nor does it end with a degree programme, but rather includes secondary and post-secondary education, professional training, and skills gained through work with or without a degree.

Many companies talk about hiring candidates without degrees but don't have a new strategy in place to get them into gateway jobs. As a training provider and credential issuer, IBM is investing in the future of work through a multifaceted approach that includes: • applying our technology to improve the structures and systems that underpin the new ecosystem; • pioneering practises in our hiring and education programmes; and • advocating for policies that will benefit other employers and training providers.

We can do more, and we should all work together to implement the following measures to create the ecosystem we require:
  • To begin, we must review and rewrite job descriptions to ensure that they are open, inclusive, and skill-based. Today, more than half of IBM's US job openings do not require a four-year degree.
  • Second, we must collaborate to ensure that credentials are recognized by employers across the market as well as academic institutions. For example, we recently announced collaborations with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Specialisterne Foundation to provide training and credentials for high-demand technology careers to U.S. military veterans and neurodivergent learners worldwide.
I also had the pleasure of meeting with the Community College Workforce Coalition this week to discuss the systemic issues and structural pain points that we all face. Community colleges have always played an important multifaceted role in our communities, providing training and developing market-responsive degree and non-degree pathways. Individual credentials can be earned along the way and help students make progress toward their goals, whether they attend a community college to pursue a degree or to upskill for a job.

IBM is committed to expanding skill training and technology credentials, as well as providing free education to members of underrepresented communities. I encourage everyone in the private, public, and non-profit sectors to consider this critical work. We can address the talent shortage, close the skills gap, and give those who have traditionally been excluded access to careers in technology. Let us form the collaborations required to validate credentials and close the skills gap.

To learn more about what IBM is doing for education and workforce development, click here