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Sam Ladah, IBM Vice President, Human Resources
There are 500K unfilled tech jobs in the USA. We need new ways to fill them.
With technology evolving so rapidly in recent years, it’s become more difficult to find enough candidates with the right skills to fill the thousands of jobs IBM has open at any given time. This isn’t just an IBM problem, it’s one the entire U.S. technology industry grapples with every day. With half a million open and unfilled tech jobs in the U.S., the big question is how do we close this growing skills gap?
What matters most in today’s workforce is having relevant, in-demand skills. Critical technologies like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud computing are pushing the limits of traditional job recruiting, forcing employers – especially in the technology industry – to shift mindsets and explore new sources of talent to address our clients’ needs.
At IBM, we are working hard to make today’s tech workforce more diversity and inclusive. That diversity is reflected in the ways that many of our professionals have built the skills required for success in these exciting fields. In fact, around 15% of the new employees IBM hires in the US each year have less than a traditional bachelor’s degree.
These IBMers’ roles aren’t white collar or blue collar jobs, they’re New Collar jobs – where skills matter more than degrees. From coding camps and P-TECH (which IBM pioneered) to community colleges, new collar IBMers have built in-demand skills that qualify them for jobs in fast growing fields that offer significant upward mobility.
Meet one new collar IBMer: Johnny Lane – an IBM IT Infrastructure Architect from Missouri who studied computer science in the early 80s. He was in the top of his class when he graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BA in computer science. However, his sports background and desire to help kids compelled him to put that career on hold and dedicate himself to coaching youth sports. Twenty years later, Johnny decided to take an online industry training course in Systems Engineering to refresh his knowledge, and then landed a help desk job at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He’s been adding to his technology skillset ever since, moving up to a job as an Infrastructure Architect at IBM. In his current new collar job, Johnny is continuously learning new skills through IBM training sessions and one-on-one skills development programs.
As I had the great pleasure of sharing this week on the public radio program Marketplace, new collar opportunities like Johnny’s are more numerous than some may think, and they are creating good jobs in places like Missouri and West Virginia where tech jobs have been scarce.
IBM will continue doing its part to expand new collar opportunities:
- We are investing $1 billion in skills training and development programs for our U.S. workforce over the next four years;
- We are expanding partnerships with U.S. community colleges to create more new collar skills training opportunities;
- We are launching new apprenticeship programs in advanced IT fields to make high tech jobs more accessible to more U.S. workers; and,
- We are advocating for public policy initiatives to bring U.S. skills training and education into the 21st century.
IBM is constantly evolving to harness the opportunities that breakthrough technologies offer, and that means our workforce evolves as well. By emphasizing the power, potential and opportunity of new collar jobs and the skills they require, we sincerely hope more players in our industry will rethink their approach to hiring, and prioritize the value of skills over specific degrees.
By Sam Ladah, Vice President, Human Resources, IBM
Ph: (202) 551-9625