Partnering for New Collar job training

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

IBM is partnering with community colleges to deliver job training for in-demand tech jobs.

You’ve heard of blue collar and white collar jobs, and middle-skills jobs. Now there are “New Collar” jobs, and IBM is partnering with community colleges to prepare people for these in-demand tech jobs.

In addition to collaborating on curricula design for next generation IT skills, IBM will work with community colleges near its major U.S. facilities. It’ll give local students an opportunity to participate in internships and apprenticeships within the company, and maybe get hired for a career at IBM.

As the initiative grows, it’ll include more than a dozen colleges. The intention is to spread to areas that traditionally have been underserved by high-tech employers.

“IBM has had real success tapping into a talent pool that doesn’t have traditional degrees. Last year alone, these New Collar professionals accounted for around 15 percent of our U.S. hiring,” said Sam Ladah, IBM’s vice president of talent, in a release.

Ladah added, “Our goal is to make the IT industry more inclusive by helping a more diverse set of candidates understand that if they have the right skills, there’s an opportunity for them at today’s IBM.”

Currently, IBM is working with Missouri’s Moberly Area Community College (MACC) to recruit New Collar positions through a major hiring initiative. The first class of new collar interns, many of whom are enrolled at MACC, started with IBM in the spring of 2017. IBM employees will be volunteering in several programs, including MACC’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) camp – focusing on STEM skills and the arts – this summer. And starting this fall, IBM Columbia’s Network for Emerging Women chapter will serve as mentors to MACC students.

“Initiatives like this provide a great opportunity to prepare our students and graduates to compete for and land marketable jobs,” said Jo Fey, dean of career and technical education at MACC. “This will also position them well for the future as job openings increasingly call for technical skills and work experience that do not come automatically with a degree.”

A customized five-week course will be launched at Northeast Iowa Community College for incoming IBM New Collar interns from the college, as well as entry-level IBM employees. The course will focus on in-demand skills.

IBM is building on its relationship with Allegany College of Maryland, which is near the company’s Rocket Center, West Virginia, Cloud and Client Innovation Center. The goal is to enhance high-tech skills training collaboration across state lines. IBM has previously consulted with the college on technology-based curriculum for its cybersecurity program. IBM is a member of the local, college-led consortium, The Western Maryland IT Center of Excellence, and works closely with Allegany College of Maryland and other community partners to make training in cloud computing and cybersecurity more readily available to the local workforce. IBM’s local team also coaches students through classroom roundtables and mock interviews.

IBM also is partnering with Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina to develop training focused on IT skills such as cloud, data science, cybersecurity and design.

“The nation’s community colleges are a pathway to well-paying jobs for many Americans,” Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said. “By aligning local economic development needs and the needs of students, community colleges bridge the gap between employers and skilled workers. We will continue to leverage partnerships with the business sector to help to ensure that American workers and businesses remain competitive in the 21st century global labor market.”

IBM already has long-standing academic training partnerships with more than 70 U.S. universities and community colleges. Its groundbreaking P-TECH model, which better prepares U.S. students for success in fast-growing New Collar careers, has expanded to an estimated 60 schools in six U.S. states, with 300-plus industry partners on board.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.