Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Training

New alliance exposes underserved groups to cyber training, job opportunities


Looking to foster new talent in the IT industry and elsewhere, IBM has opened up its online learning and skills-building platform to nearly 30 global organizations that serve underrepresented populations.

While anyone can sign up for SkillsBuild, IBM’s newly announced alliance with various nonprofits, career development organizations and educational institutions in 12 different countries will give women, minorities, veterans, refugees and unemployed young adults additional exposure to the platform. Once participants complete the program, staffing firm Manpower will then help place some of these individuals into promising jobs and hopefully set them off on a fulfilling career path.

Launched several months ago, the free platform, SkillsBuild, has already accrued over 200,000 participants. The most popular training course subject among enrollees so far: cybersecurity. Roughly 30 percent of all platform users have taken cyber-related coursework, with other popular topics ranging from data analytics to AI to hybrid cloud networking.

“What we love about the partnerships that we have forming – and our focus as a corporate social responsibility organization – is that we are very much focused on vulnerable populations…who've been left out of the tech fields… and make sure they have access to the training, skills, credentials and opportunities to apply for jobs,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM’s vice president and global head of corporate social responsibility, in an interview with SC Media. 

“We have thousands of self-paced courses in five languages,” Nixon-Saintil continued. “The purpose is to provide job seekers with the skills that they need for in-demand, entry-level IT and non-IT roles in multiple industries.”

For instance, SkillsBuild’s popular Cybersecurity Professional learning path starts with “Cybersecurity Fundamentals,” a beginner-friendly short course, which users can then supplement through additional sources and certifications available through Fortinet’s Network Security Academy, a SkillsBuild partner. The platform also gives participants access to “Cybersecurity Ops: Terminal,” an educational game that simulates a cyberattack.

But the ultimate goal is not just to provide people with the skills to thrive in cyber and IT; it’s to actually find them work. “We don't believe that just obtaining the credentials is the end game,” said Nixon-Saintil. “The end game is making sure that we can move our participants to meaningful jobs, focus on social and mobile opportunities, and make sure that they can be successful in the tech field.”

IBM believes the new alliance will help the company reach its goal of skilling 500,000 people by the end of the 2021. IBM also expects to secure jobs for 7,000 individuals across numerous industries.

In conjunction with the VivaTech event this week, IBM announced that its partnering organizations include ActionAid Italia Onlus, The American Indian Foundation Trust, Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development, Argencon, Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC), Bruxelles Formation, Cité des Métiers, CSC Academy, CSRBOX, Edunet Foundation, Fondazione Human Age Institute, Fundación Konecta, Junior Achievement Americas, Junior Achievement Italy, Laboratoria, Mission Locale de Paris, Reacha Foundation, Tata Community Initiatives Trust, The Royal Alberta College, Technifutur®, Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, Training Point, Turkish Industry & Business, Unnati Foundation, Uvi Jagriti Sansthan, VetsinTech, Jeevitam-VSS Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd, Workforce Development Inc., and 60 000 rebonds.

“We have many programs that focus on education and skilling as a way to promote inclusive growth. SkillsBuild is a phenomenal addition to our arsenal. We are proud to be a part of this program,” said Nagesh Singh, executive director of Edunet Foundation, an India-based nonprofit organization founded in 2015 for the purpose of creating educational networking that promote employment and entrepreneurship.

“IBM's SkillsBuild initiative has given infinite opportunities for self-paced and mentored learning for youths who struggle to get professional courses and guidance in normal education programs,” said Bhomik Shah, founder and CEO of India-based CSRBOX, which describes itself as a corporate social responsibility knowledge and impact intelligence-driven media platform for the development community. “CSRBOX has been able to provide over 100,000 learners access to future skills via SkillsBuild. This is an incredible contribution towards nurturing youth for India's future workforce requirements.”

“We’ve had a lot of success in India. There’s significant demand,” said Nixon-Saintil. “We have already moved over 2,000 people in India through the platform into meaningful jobs.”

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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