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IBM SkillsBuild - Closing the Skills Gap with Equity

Entered in Technology


With student debt at a staggering $1.6 Trillion in the US and underemployment across huge segments of the population, IBM saw an opportunity to close the skills gap in a manner that is equitable, skills-led, (rather than degree-focused) and accelerates diverse talent pipelines for our industry.

IBM SkillsBuild is our free digital program that offers step by step credentialing and 1:1 mentoring for job seekers interested in pursuing technology careers. Through SkillsBuild, learners can be credentialed and job ready in 6 months.

IBM is dedicating our people, technology and resources to free skills credentialing, with a market-centric approach that is aligned to industry needs in fields like cybersecurity, AI, cloud computing, quantum computing and beyond.  We are democratizing access to the skills required to participate in those professions, thereby accelerating new and diverse talent pipelines.


Strategy and Execution

Aligning affordable education and skills development to meaningful industry jobs is a social and economic imperative. In January 2021, IBM eliminated the traditional 4 year degree requirement for 50% of our open jobs.  To accelerate efforts to close the skills gap, IBM made significant expansions to IBM SkillsBuild, our free digital program for job seekers and students.

The platform offers over 1,000 courses aligned to meaningful, well-paying jobs from cybersecurity and cloud computing to AI and design thinking and beyond.  Participants can earn IBM-branded digital credentials, while a global network of nonprofit partners helps connect learners with local job opportunities. Most learners start with no experience and can be ready to apply for IT jobs within six months through participation in hands-on, project-based learning and mentoring support.

The strategy relied heavily on partnering with like-minded institutions who shared our sense of urgency and opportunity.

In June 2021, IBM announced a collaboration with Manpower Group and 30 other organizations to accelerate this program and connect job seekers to industry roles in 12  new countries.  These organizations will leverage the online learning program IBM SkillsBuild with their members, which include a range of underserved populations including veterans, women, minorities, refugees, and unemployed young adults. The program is designed to empower job seekers, within 3-6 months, with professional workplace readiness and technical skills and specific industry credentials and badges recognized by the market. ManpowerGroup's Talent Agents will offer assessment, coaching and personalized support to help learners from organizations in this collaboration to access growth roles and build employability for the long-term. 

In October 2021, IBM announced a commitment  to provide 30 million job seekers with new skills aligned to in-demand industry jobs between now and 2030 and we expanded of our partner network to 125 institutions around the world.

SkillsBuild for job seekers is our global platform accelerating skills credentialing for industry jobs.  IBM also launched IBM SkillsBuild for Students, a program for students looking for an introduction to careers supported by a free digital learning platform geared toward teens and teachers. 




These initiatives were created to accelerate access to free skills credentialing aligned to industry needs and to attract job seekers, regardless of their education and work experience. 

We believe these partnerships will have a multiplier effect across communities and generations and underscore diversity as a competitive advantage and key innovation driver for the markets of tomorrow. 



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