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Citing IT Skills Shortage, IBM Wants To Expand Presence At Universities

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By Wired Academic Staff

IBM today announces several expansions to its Academic Initiative  on university campuses as it seeks to give learning materials to professors to use in classes as a way to help fill job skills gaps as well as sell IBM products and services to universities.

The company is also sponsoring a host of job fairs, professors awards programs, training programs, knowledge exchanges and competitions (details at bottom of this post).

“We want to be the scale up partner of choice for these universities,” said Jim Sporher, head of IBM’s university programs. “We want to make sure they have access to technology and understand our strategy.”  He also sees massive open online courses (MOOCs) as a mega-trend and will be considering ways for IBM to be part of the MOOC trend in the future, particularly as many of the MOOC providers such as Udacity and Coursera offer classes in computer science.

He said his staff of 400 works with 6,000 universities worldwide. Half of the IBM interaction is with computer science departments, 25% with business schools and the rest with engineering and other schools. Roughly 50% of the schools are in the US, 25% are in other developed countries and 25% in emerging markets. “That should shift to 30%, 30%, 30% in coming years,” Sporher said in a phone interview.

As a big blue-chip progenitor of the tech industry, IBM is worth listening to in many regards. For one, corporate computing trends often filter down into the education space. The corporate world often has the money to purchase and deploy game-changing technologies. IBM sees that it also works the other way too, where computing at the university level creates new businesses and ideas that move up into the corporate realm.

IT jobs will grow 22% through 2020 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In response to that trend, IBM expanded its Academic Initiative today as a way to prepare faculty and students for the future job market. It offers software for teaching and research purposes as well as curriculum-building materials on a host of IT topics such as cyber security, business analytics, mobile, social business and commerce.

“We want to respond to that [skills gap] by creating programs at universities where faculty can help fill the skills gap,” Sporher said. “We make our software available to them at no charge.”

Sporher said one faculty at the University of Memphis collaborated with the police in Memphis to teach students to do predictive analysis of crime data using IBM tools. The police used the analysis to help them decide where to post officers and cars around Memphis and saw a 20% drop in crime. Police gave him more data and projects and saw more success and decided to hire some of the professor’s students.

The expanded initiative will offer free access to curriculum on IT security so that students gain market-ready skills in the cyber security space. The IBM Tech Trends Report, highlights cyber security as a key job growth area, which is expected to nearly double by 2015. IBM is offering pre-made curriculum that brings real-world technology security scenarios into the classroom. It allows professors to teach students – by remote access on IBM’s zEnterprise mainframe – how to test applications for bugs and check network and virtualized servers for vulnerabilities.

At the same time, the campus presence is a business driver for IBM, which can sell mainframe systems, cloud computing applications or other big tech solutions to universities. “They are like cities,” Sporher said. “There are some revenue possibilities.”

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Here are details from IBM on their new projects…. “The IBM Academic Initiative now provides software licenses and how-to training materials in three new areas”:

Big Data & Analytics: Now professors can bring Big Data software directly into the classroom with access to a variety of IBM Big Data offerings. E-Books and learning modules on Hadoop geared for either business and computer science students are also available.

Commerce: Now professors can download IBM Smarter Commerce software for use in the classroom. Through a series of hands on learning modules, students study topics like benchmarking and learn how to develop code to uncover online shopping patterns.

Mobile Computing: New hands-on learning modules on HTLM 5 and DOJO prepare students to develop mobile applications. Professors can also download IBM mobile development software to give students hands-on experience.

Finally, to help faculty update their skills on advanced technologies, IBM today unveiled a Knowledge Exchange. This online resource allows professors from around the world to share and collaborate on courseware and best practices with their peers. The initial offerings in the Knowledge Exchange will feature curriculum from winning IBM Smarter Planet grant faculty.

New Training Courses and Resources for IT Professionals
As more organizations turn to technology to solve tough business challenges, the need for skilled IT professionals continues to grow in all industries.  For example, a recent report  from TechAmerica, outlines the need for government employees to sharpen their skills in the area of big data. In addition, the 2012 IBM Tech Trends reports sites the lack of professionals with business analytics expertise as the number one barrier of adoption for that technology.

To make it easier for IT practitioners to stay current with rapidly evolving technologies, IBM is providing:

·New developerWorks sections on mobile computing, security and commerce provide no charge access to training materials, technical resources and online technical communities. For example, in the new security section of developerWorks, developers can access examples of weaknesses in applications, learn about typical web attacks and collaborate with peers around best practices for responding to vulnerabilities.

·New in-person training and certification for IBM Business Partners complement the new educational materials, installation guidelines, and best practices resources now available in developerWorks.

New Programs to Engage Students 
IBM is also working more closely with students to help them understand how advanced technologies like business analytics and security are critical for a variety of career paths such as business, marketing and science.

·Virtual Career Event: In early 2013, the company will host IBM Career Exploration: Make a difference. The global virtual event will give current university students and recent graduates the opportunity to interact with IBM executives and leading experts, learn how to build and apply their expertise, further their networks and best position themselves in a highly competitive job market.

·In-Class Challenges:  IBM is expanding its work to bring real-world challenges into the classroom through activities like Watson Case Study Competitions, the Great Mind Challenge and special events like the recent Student Innovator Challenge recently held in Singapore where more than 100 students developed new smarter planet solutions.

·Online competitions:  In mainframe contests across the world, students gain hands-on experience with enterprise systems, tackling technical challenges that give them exposure to security, cloud and Big Data issues experienced by the world’s largest companies.  In 2012, over 13,000 students have registered to compete in 13 mainframe contests running across 25 countries.

·Job Board: In December, IBM’s Power Systems Academic Initiative will launch a Power Skills Job Board, emphasizing entry level opportunities for member school students with interest in IBM’s Power Systems.

·Expanded Access to Higher Education Resources: IBM recently joined the National Coalition for Advanced Technology Centers, providing IBM’s Power Systems Academic Initiative member schools access to a wider network of higher education resources, specifically those that advocate and promote the use of technology applications that enhance economic and workforce development programs and services.

To access the new Resources for professors and academic institutions: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/university/academicinitiative/

To access the new recourses for developers: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/

To find information on IBM Security Services: http:/www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/it-services/security-services.html

To Read the Tech Trends Report: www.ibm.com/developerworks/techtrendsreport

 

arrow3 Responses

  1. Diana
    24 mos ago

    It would be nice if you interview potential candidates that are perfectly qualified before making statement like this!

  2. Diana
    24 mos ago

    I suggest that IBM needs to do a better job at interviewing candidates before they state a skills shortage.

  3. Richard
    23 mos, 4 wks ago

    It would also help if IBM and the rest of the industry would start looking at their older staff and potential employees as a source of knowledge and skills instead of saying “you’re obsolete”. I mean really what is the difference between programming languages anyhow – unless you are an HR person and they are all incomprehensible….

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