How IBM Is Investing in STEM Education and Skills

Our social responsibility work mirrors our business — innovation, expertise and a dedication to the success of organizations that build stronger communities.
Dec 12, 2019 11:30 AM ET
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AI and intelligent automation could lead to 120 million workers in need of new skills over the next few years, according to recent IBM research. At the same time, new collar opportunities are growing and many IT skills are in high demand — cybersecurity could have 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021, for example. Our initiatives are intended to help address these challenges by promoting STEM skills to kids, supporting new collar skills education, and collaborating to create new paths into the tech workforce.

The P-TECH™ school model we co-founded in 2011 continues to grow. There will be 200 schools open in 16 countries and 11 U.S. states in 2019, with more than 600 affiliated businesses. They combine high school and college coursework in a six-year program that can equip graduates with job-ready skills, work experience including paid internships and mentoring, and a no-cost associate degree. We hired 99 P-TECH students as interns in 2018, 11 alumni have gone on to earn bachelor’s degrees and 30 P-TECH graduates were hired full-time at IBM. We’re now focused on helping to expand the P-TECH network, enable collaboration among its schools, and develop online educational resources for teachers and students. Learn more at p-tech.org.

Our Veterans Employment Accelerator program helps address the growing need for cybersecurity professionals with data analytics skills, while assisting military veterans to transition into civilian careers. We provide free training and certification in IBM i2® Analyst’s Notebook® and QRadar® software, and work with nonprofits and other organizations to help veterans find jobs. More than 300 veterans in the U.S., U.K. and Canada participated in 2018, and since 2016 nearly 300 have found data analysts jobs — including 36 IBMers. For 2019 we plan to launch Veterans Skills Network, a digital learning and networking service with career mentoring and job placement assistance.

The IBM Apprenticeship Program is a new opportunity for people without advanced degrees to join IBM as apprentices to develop technical skills in a highly structured training and mentoring program. Hundreds are already enrolled, and in January 2019 we launched a coalition with the Consumer Technology Association to promote apprenticeships for new collar work across industries, with plans to add 450 apprentices at IBM each year through 2023. Learn more at ibm.com.

IBM Global University Programs collaborate with schools worldwide to provide resources for teaching, research and skills training in blockchain, cybersecurity, AI, data science and other high-demand areas. This includes the IBM Academic Initiative, offering faculty and students free access to IBM technology for learning and noncommercial research. IBM Skills Academy is a new program that trains faculty and equips them with prebuilt curricula, cloud-based labs and other resources to help teach eight in-demand technology skills. Dozens of U.S. schools are now implementing the program, and expansion is underway to Europe, China and Latin America. Lean more at ibm.com.

Two new initiatives target STEM education for women in India. Working with seven state education departments and the STEM for Girls program, IBM intends to reach 200,000 girls over three years to develop computational thinking capabilities and life skills to build confidence in pursuing STEM careers. Separately, with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship we’re enabling a two-year advanced diploma in cloud and data at 100 Government Industrial Training Institutes, half of which are for women. That program will reach 1,000 students over three years and IBM plans to provide five-month internships for 100 each year, starting in 2019. These and similar ongoing efforts could benefit more than 1 million female students by 2022.

Teacher Advisor With Watson is a free online resource that uses AI to interact with teachers, assess their needs and recommend resources from a library of 10,000 lessons, activities and more. The content is curated by our nonprofit partner UnboundEd and initially focused on math education for students aged 5-14. Watson can save teachers time by responding quickly to inquiries and suggesting relevant, high-quality resources aligned to curriculum standards. In 2018, we began working with the National Center for Learning Disabilities to develop resources that support students with learning and attention issues, and launched a pilot deployment in India. We’re making the system more openly accessible to educators everywhere, and working to integrate Watson functions on other websites popular with teachers. Since 2017, Teacher Advisor has grown to 15,000 registered users and is available to anyone — try it or learn more at teacheradvisor.org.

All Things STEM is our volunteer initiative intended to reach 1 million students annually with activities to promote STEM careers, introduce 21st-century skills like machine learning or AI, and more. Launched in January 2018, it offers free resources anyone can use to lead volunteer events, and by year-end IBM employees and retirees held sessions with more than 3.2 million students worldwide. See what’s available or learn more at ibm.com.

Learn more in IBM's 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report