Business Development

IBM just made it easier to start a career in IT with SkillsBuild

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By David Leaser

When IBM’s chairman Ginni Rometty coined the term New Collar to describe jobs in IT which don’t require a traditional degree, her timing was perfect. The world has entered the fourth major industrial era since the 18th century. By every measure, the impact to the workforce will be significant. More than 100 million workers in the world’s 10 largest economies will need to learn new skills related to artificial intelligence and intelligent automation.

Combined with other socio-economic and demographic factors, this technology disruption will require business models to change in all industries, resulting in new categories of jobs and the displacement of others.

It’s about skills, not your history or pedigree

Ginni Rometty speaks often, with passion, about the opportunities these changes will create. By focusing on skills, not degrees, Ginni has redefined the qualifications to get a job in IT. Underserved populations and labor pools most impacted by this technology disruption can succeed based on their skills, not their history or pedigree.


SkillsBuild: A new platform for job seekers

At the Tech for Good Summit, IBM announced the launch of SkillsBuild, led by Lisa Neddam and Kyla Maloney of IBM’s Corporate Social Responsibility organization. The new digital platform provides jobseekers, including those with long-term unemployment, refugees, asylum seekers and veterans, with career fit assessments, training, personalized coaching and the experiential learning they need to re-enter the workforce. The program goes the final mile to show employment opportunities, too.

“The market is rapidly adopting new cloud computing platforms to deliver new and innovative services on a large scale,” Guillermo Miranda, Global Vice President of IBM Corporate Social Responsibility, said. “We use the same emerging technologies and apply similar design principles to help associations improve the skills of the long-term unemployed around the world.”

SkillsBuild offers digital training content provided by IBM and selected partners for their educational expertise and innovative technology:


The program also provides personalized coaching and experiential learning. IBM Digital Badges, issued using the Credly Acclaim platform, generate digital resumes and offer embedded job postings and connections to employers. The platform will be available for users who register through local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), following the country deployments (France, UK and Germany this year, and US and more countries following.) The platform in France goes live in June 2019.


IBM is democratizing IT with its skills programs

By focusing on skills over degrees and geography, IBM wants to shift mindsets in the IT industry and make tech more diverse and inclusive. We want to bring in people with non-traditional backgrounds, who built skills through coding camps, community colleges or modern career education programs like our P-TECH model or apprenticeship program. We want to attract people reentering the workforce or relaunching their careers, and we want to create more jobs for people in parts of the world where tech jobs are scarce. This is about creating tech career opportunities outside the traditional areas.


The big picture: IBM has a program for anyone seeking a role in IT

This new program is part of a broader strategy to rapidly build skills through multiple channels:

  • IBM Skills Gateway:  Hosts one of the largest IT training programs in the world and a network of Global Training Providers who provide skills development programs at every level.
  • Coursera: Certificate Programs, like the IBM Customer Engagement Program, develop skills fast to land a good-paying job.
  • P-TECH: Extends the typical four-year high school to create a seamless six-year academic experience to earn an industry-recognized, two-year post-secondary degree, as well as a high school diploma.
  • IBM Skills Academy: Provides IT training through a network of higher education institutions.
  • IBM Apprenticeships: Allows candidates to develop skills and make real-world contributions – all while earning a paycheck.



David Leaser is the senior executive of strategic growth initiatives for IBM’s Training & Skills program. Leaser developed IBM’s first cloud-based embedded learning solution and is the founder of the IBM Digital Badge program. He is a Fellow at Northeastern University and a member of the IMS Global Consortium Board advisory group for digital credentials. David has provided guidance to the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Education as an employer subject matter expert. He holds a B.A. from Pepperdine University and an M.A. from USC’s Annenberg School.

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