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IBM on Skills-First

Why the tech giant is bullish on alternatives to the four-year degree.

IBM on Skills-First

Why the tech giant is bullish on alternatives to the four-year degree.

Published 09-29-23

Submitted by IBM

Close up of IBM logo on a computer
Image courtesy of Carson Masterson on Unsplash

Originally published by The Job & Open Campus Media, Inc. on

By Paul Fain

No corporation has been more committed than IBM in trying to create career opportunities for workers without four-year college degrees. The global tech company’s ambitions include becoming a major player in the issuing of alternative credentials and working with other companies on their hiring strategies.

IBM created its U.S. apprenticeship program in 2017. It grew faster than the company anticipated and has expanded to 35 job roles. IBM has hired roughly 1K apprenticeships through its U.S. program, where more than 90% of graduates become full-time employees.

The company partnered with Franklin Apprenticeship to create its IBM Z Mainframe Apprenticeship program. It says an intermediary can help ease a company’s administrative burden with apprenticeships while shaping the experience for participants.

“This is what they do. This is their core competency,” says Lydia Logan, IBM’s vice president of global education and workforce development and corporate social responsibility.

Logan acknowledges that efforts by companies to change how they hire and develop talent are a “slow burn.” The progress IBM has made was possible, she says, because it took on the challenge as part of a “complete agenda” ranging from policy priorities to apprenticeships and consulting to SkillsBuild, the company’s free online course and credential platform, which is a big part of its goal to upskill 30M people this decade.

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