On the Dedication of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Center for Learning

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Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, at the dedication ceremony of the new Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Center for Learning, Oct. 1, 2018.

IBMers have built our company on enduring values and principles, and one of those principles has been the importance of continuing to grow and build skills. It’s how we’ve helped the company survive and thrive for 107 years, and it’s why our clients have come to rely on IBM to constantly renew our products, our services, and our world-class skills.

It’s in this spirit that we are renaming our legendary learning center, the Louis V. Gerstner IBM Center for Learning. As Chairman and CEO from 1993-2002, Gerstner believed strongly that to endure and thrive companies need to constantly train and develop leadership skills. As such, naming a center that is dedicated to the agile development of team skills is a wonderful tribute to his vision.

The Gerstner Center, which has undergone a significant renovation, serves as a great illustration of IBM’s commitment to education, training and to providing professional opportunities for future generations of IBM employees.

This commitment is more important than ever, given that the half-life of tech skills is only about three years today. It used to be that someone with a great technology skill could rely on it for a long time, but those days are gone, and IBM spends more than $400 million a year on training and development of our workforce to keep our skills current and in demand. Our innovative and continuous focus on skills development is a big reason people choose to come to IBM, and to keep developing their careers here.

But the focus can’t be on training methods of the past alone, not for an IT market that the White House says already has a gap of a half-million workers in the U.S. alone.

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., and Ginni Rometty at the dedication ceremony of the new Center of Learning, named in honor of Gerstner, Oct. 1, 2018.

That’s why IBM is leading the way for innovative public-private partnerships that develop ‘new-collar’ jobs. IBM’s foresight has created nearly 100 Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) schools. The P-TECH students, who graduate with both their high school diplomas and associate degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), are equipped to apply for positions in some of the fastest-growing industries. These students — and their employers, which include IBM — know that what often matters most is not an advanced degree, but in having in-demand skills and the willingness to keep building upon them.

As part of our work in this area, IBM is also helping to train students in community colleges for IT jobs of the future, particularly in locations that have been traditionally under-served by tech companies. These colleges, like Moberly Community College, in Columbia, MO,  provide a pipeline of talent we can draw from for local jobs.

We’re also investing in programs like ‘Tech-Reentry’ to attract mid-career women who’ve opted out of the workforce but are interested in gaining contemporary skills to return. And IBM is committed to training U.S. veterans who want to develop skills in the growing area of cybersecurity;  IBM’s free training, certification, and employment assistance has helped more than 500 veterans since 2017 find jobs in our growing industry.

In another vein, IBM Apprentices, in roles registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, receive 12-to-18 months of hands-on training for in-demand roles, like software engineer. Nearly 200 apprentices have joined IBM over the last year, working in emerging areas like blockchain and cloud security.

We’re also doing a great deal with IBMers. Over the last century, we’ve developed a culture of learning across a global community of IBMers, who regularly renew their skills. Last year IBMers averaged 60 hours of training. In fact, 220,000 IBMers have already earned 700,000 digital badges in areas like machine learning, blockchain, cloud architecture and design thinking – some of the premier digital skills of the future – for the benefit of our company and our clients.

The creation of the Gerstner Center is a fitting way to honor one of IBM’s greatest leaders. But the way we’ve chosen to honor him shows that training leaders and developing the skills needed to compete in a fast-changing world has never gone out of style here.

Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, IBM

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