By Claire Zillman
June 7, 2017

IBM announced Wednesday that it is expanding its partnerships with community colleges in an effort to train more workers for what the company describes as “new collar jobs”—skilled positions in fast growing tech fields that don’t necessarily require a traditional four-year degree.

IBM chairman, president, and CEO Ginni Rometty announced the news at a Business Roundtable panel on addressing the skills gap in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning alongside assistant to the president Reed Cordish, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and J.P. Morgan Chase chairman and CEO Jaime Dimon.

IBM plans to work with community colleges located near some of its major U.S. facilities to develop relevant curricula and offer local students internships and apprenticeships at the nearby IBM hubs.

In a release announcing the news, the company identified Columbia, Mo.; Rocket Center, W.V.; Dubuque, Iowa; Boulder, Colo.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Austin and Dallas in Texas as communities it will target through the program, which IBM says will reach more than a dozen schools in the next six months. The company says the initiative will “expand technology career opportunities in areas that traditionally have been underserved by high-tech employers.”

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As an example of the initiative’s offerings, IBM pointed to a five-week course it launched this month for incoming IBM interns from Northeast Iowa Community College in Dubuque, Iowa. The course will introduce participants to operating system platforms, virtualization, coding, and IT trouble shooting.

The company says its work at the community college level will contribute to its talent pipeline while making the IT industry more inclusive by reaching a more “diverse set of candidates.” Professionals without traditional degrees made up 15% of the company’s U.S. hiring last year, Sam Ladah, IBM’s vice president of talent, said in a statement.

The new community college push adds to the existing academic training partnerships IBM has with more than 70 higher-ed institutions in the U.S. IBM has also worked to train students at the secondary level through its P-Tech schools that offer a somewhat radical six-year program that blends the traditional four-year high school experience with two years of college—enough to earn an associates degree.

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