Skills

Why IBM is upskilling 30 million people for the digital era

Author: Katrina Troughton, Managing Director IBM A/NZ

According to the World Economic Forum, the inability of employers to find enough skilled workers could cost the global economy US$11.5 trillion in forgone GDP growth by 2028. A high 87 percent of executives also report suffering from the issue. 

Here in Australia, the Australian Computing Society and Deloitte have forecast we will need to add about 300,000 technology workers by 2026 to meet demand, taking our technology workforce to well over 1 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for people and businesses to become digitally savvy. However, at the same time it has left many unemployed. Access to training and opportunity is fundamental to securing Australia’s future growth trajectory. 

Connecting talent with training

This is why IBM has announced it has committed to upskilling 30 million people by 2030, ensuring many more learners are future ready and able to participate in tomorrow’s digital economy.

This important effort will leverage IBM’s existing skills programs and career readiness platforms to increase access to education and in-demand technical roles in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analysis, cloud computing and cybersecurity. 

In fact, AustCyber cited that last year there were more than 14,000 job openings for dedicated and related cyber security roles in Australia, but a talent pool half the size of the national average for employers to recruit from.

To help address this skills gap, there are now more than 10,000 courses on IBM’s SkillsBuild platform[BM1] , which is complemented by a global network of 90 non-profit partners. One of those partners here in Australia is SoldierOn, that is leveraging IBM’s SkillsBuild program to help more than 3,000 former defence personnel reskill for new careers. 

One of our recent recruits, Stuart Clark, came to IBM via this partnership. Stuart joined the Australian Army as an officer and logistics specialist before deciding to explore new career options in his mid-30s. 

It was clear to IBM that Stuart had a highly valuable combination of expertise in logistics and defence and excellent leadership skills. What he didn’t have was experience in SAP software. However, by completing the SAP micro-credentialing available on SkillsBuild and gaining on-the-job technical training, Stuart has quickly and successfully made the transition to becoming a technology specialist at IBM.

Rethinking skills and pathways

The digital transformation we are living through – which has been dramatically accelerated by the pandemic – is creating the need for ‘new collar’ jobs that require new skills. To keep up with this trend, we need to upskill our workforces quickly and at scale. 

What IBM has learnt over the years, through our many partnerships with the private sector, governments, educational institutions, not-for-profits as well as individuals, is that there is immense opportunity in coming together in value-driven partnerships to address this issue.

We also need to think laterally by opening up new pathways into careers; employing a wider range of candidates by increasing gender, racial, sexual-orientation and neurological diversity; and rethinking our qualifications system. 

Our ambition is to use platforms like SkillsBuild and work with partners like SoldierOn[BM2]  to create 30 million stories like Stuart’s! 

IBM is committed to programs that have a meaningful impact on our business, our clients, our communities and on the world. I genuinely welcome your thoughts on ways we can all come together to help address the skills gap in our market and industries.


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