Badging & Certification

IBM launches new professional skills program: The top five soft skills you need to succeed in business

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By David Leaser

A recent LinkedIn study found 57% of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. Soft skills include the ability to work effectively, from presentation to collaborations skills. But soft skills are becoming harder to find in today’s labor market candidate pools.

To help solve the problem, IBM is hosting free professional skills training modules which have been determined to represent core soft skills needed in the modern workforce. These online courses are part of a new Professional Skills category on IBM’s training website, and they can be accessed online on the IBM Skills Gateway. The courses each take less than two hours and are available today:

  • Collaborate Effectively: The Collaborate Effectively course will help you develop skills and behaviors  required to enhance the way you collaborate with your team, other IBMers, Business Partners and clients.
  • Presenting with Purpose: This course will help you develop skills and behaviors required to confidently and successfully create and deliver presentations.
  • Interpersonal Skills: This course will help you develop skills and behaviors required to become an effective communicator, make a lasting impact, and deal with challenges in a controlled and focused manner.
  • Delivering Quality Work with Agility: In this course, you’ll learn an approach that will enable you to be agile while working professionally to deliver quality and experiences to clients.
  • Solving Problems with Critical and Creative Thinking: Learn to solve problems and implement solutions more efficiently and in an agile manner by using a systematic five-step process

You can view and enroll in these online courses on the IBM Skills Gateway.


Digital Badges from IBM: An alternative credential to broadcast your skills

As an added benefit, students who complete the IBM professionals skills courses and pass the exam will be given the option to receive a free digital badge from IBM. Badges make it easy to create a digital resume which can be verified by a potential employer. With IBM Digital Badges, students can easily share skills and recognition on social media, like Twitter, Facebook or LInkedIn, or add them to your resume. The system automatically builds a digital resume which can easily be shared with a web link.

Employers can find students who complete activities or candidates who are looking for jobs by tagging specific badges in an online search through Talent Match. And every IBM digital badge is embedded with links to real-time labor market data about what skills are in demand, and they are linked to actual job postings.


Developing the Blended Digital Professional

As industries are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and hiring. Roles today for digital professionals require a blend of skills:

  • Domain knowledge: Understanding the industry and role-specific skills, like marketing and finance
  • Digital skills: Job-specific technology skills from managing data to programming and security
  • Business skills: Including project management and design thinking
  • Soft skills: The ability to work effectively, from presentation to collaborations skills


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 career, and we want to create more jobs for people in parts of the world where tech jobs are scarce. In the United States, we’re hiring new collar IBMers in places like West Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, and Iowa. This is about creating tech career opportunities outside the coasts.


The big picture: IBM has programs for everyone seeking a role in IT

This new category of Professional Skills is part of a broader strategy to develop the blended digital professional. IBM has developed programs to rapidly build digital skills and domain skills through multiple channels:

  • IBM Skills Gateway:  Hosts one of the largest IT training programs in the world
  • 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: IBM’s innovative apprentice program allows you to develop your skills and make real-world contributions – all while earning a paycheck.
  • IBM Veterans Programs: BM is working with veteran service organizations to help military veterans prepare for careers in the expanding field of advanced data analytics.



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. He 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. in Communications from Pepperdine University and an M.A. in Communications Management from USC’s Annenberg School.

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