IBM Investing $1 Billion in Initiatives including Apprenticeships for ‘New Collar’ Jobs

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterized by the fusion of biological, digital, and physical systems, is already happening. Employers and workers must be ready to face the changes, challenges, and opportunities that go along with this new industrial era, according to IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty.

At CNBC’s At Work Talent & HR: Building the Workforce of the Future Conference in New York, Rometty said we will experience a profound transformation of the workforce over the next five to ten years.

AI will change all jobs

Rometty noted that analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving the changes in job roles at companies across all industries. She believes that only some jobs categories will be replaced and majority of positions that will remain will require workers to have skills in analytics and AI.

She said, “I expect AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to ten years.” She emphasized that everybody needs to be prepared with the upcoming changes in the workforce.

“To get ready for this paradigm shift companies have to focus on three things: retraining, hiring workers that don’t necessarily have a four-year college degree and rethinking how their pool of recruits may fit new job roles,” said Rometty.

Currently, the United States’ technology sector (74 percent of tech companies) is struggling to find workers with the right skills to fill the 500,000 available high-tech jobs, according to the Future of Work Survey from Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Tech companies are aggressively looking to hire workers with skills in software development, data analytics, engineering, and AI/machine learning.

Addressing the existing skills gap

Based on the survey, U.S. tech industry, which accounts for 10 percent of the country’s GDP, has a big skills gap problem. The situation indicates that tech companies need to do something to close the gap.

According to Rometty, IBM is investing $1 billion in initiatives to resolve the current skills gap. The tech giant is offering apprenticeships to train workers for “new collar jobs.” She coined this phrase to describe workers with tech skills but does not have a four-year college degree.

New collar jobs require the right mix of skills set for the tech industry’s fastest growing areas such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, cognitive business, and digital design etc. These are in-demand but remain difficult to fill positions in the industry.

IBM is developing 500 apprenticeships and its goal is to make the upcoming workforce transformation “an inclusive era for employees.” The company’s New Collar Certificate Program is now available in Coursera.

Last month, IBM partnered with CTA to bring together tech leaders to address the skills gap in the United States by creating new apprenticeship programs. They established the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition to develop and expand thousands apprenticeship opportunities for American workers nationwide. More than coalition members Bosch, Postmates, SoftBank Robotics, Sprint, Toyota and Walmart are currently creating new apprenticeships or expanding their existing programs.

Rometty says workforce is a strategic renewable asset

During the CNBC conference, Rometty also encouraged employers to “bring consumerism into the HR model and get rid of self-service.” She added that employers must use AI and data analytics to personalize their strategies to retrain, promote, and engage employees.” Furthermore, she encouraged them to “move away from centers of excellence to solution centers.

Rometty emphasized that today, companies “need to be agile and realize their workforce is a strategic renewable asset.”

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