IBM Pledges To Bring Free AI Training to 2 Million Workers by 2026

IBM Pledges To Bring Free AI Training to 2 Million Workers by 2026

The News: IBM has pledged to deliver free AI training coursework to 2 million adults by the end of 2026 to help fill the global AI skills gap as AI and generative AI take on broader roles in enterprise technology. With a focus on serving people in underrepresented communities, IBM will expand its AI education partnerships with universities around the world to train new learners and launch new generative AI coursework through its IBM SkillsBuild program. Read the full Press Release on the IBM Newsroom webpage.

IBM Pledges To Bring Free AI Training to 2 Million Workers by 2026

Analyst Take: IBM’s move to bolster the global AI and generative AI workforce by providing free skills training to some 2 million adult learners is just what is needed as the AI and generative AI revolutions appear to be getting into high gear.

And as smart and forward-looking as it is to create this AI training coursework and program to serve the technology industry, it is even more brilliant to extend it to 2 million underrepresented workers in society to help them find their own paths in this global economy. This global AI skills gap has been a critical piece of the employment puzzle in the past few years as many skilled jobs remain open because there are not enough qualified and trained workers to fill the positions. This IBM partnership with universities around the world will, I believe, be a great beginning to filling those frustrating employment skills gaps.

By training more workers and giving them the right AI skills that will qualify them for well-paying AI jobs, IBM and its partners are helping to solve one of the most vexing challenges in recent years. I would go so far as to call this undertaking a human moonshot project because it sets a critical goal of providing specialized and important training to 2 million workers who might never have had the chance to fill such a role in their own communities, where such opportunities may be non-existent. By bringing such skills to workers who have had fewer chances in life, this project is also a feel-good effort by Big Blue and its partners, which is not a bad thing.

IBM Expanding Existing AI Training Collaborations

To make these goals reachable, IBM announced that it is expanding its existing AI education collaborations with universities, partners, nonprofits, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world and that it is launching related new generative AI coursework through the IBM SkillsBuild program. IBM SkillsBuild is a free, online education program focused on underrepresented communities in tech and is available to adult learners, high school students, and university students and faculty. The program aims to provide opportunities in developing valuable new skills and accessing new career opportunities. The online learning is complemented by customized practical experiences delivered in collaboration with a global network of partners, according to IBM.

By taking these actions, IBM said these efforts will expand the company’s training and career-building platforms to offer broadened access to educational and in-demand technical roles in the maturing field of AI.

This strategy is well planned, I believe, which should dramatically help IBM and other companies that face shortages of workers who possess up-to-date skills in AI and generative AI. And the 2-year focus for this effort is a great target, because it is doable and aims to provide these skilled workers within a reasonable amount of time.

Global Study Shows Need for AI Training

In its press release about the new program, IBM pointed to a global study by its IBM Institute of Business Value that concluded that executives surveyed in the report estimated that the expansion of AI and automation in their businesses will require 40% of their workforces to be reskilled over the next 3 years. And most of those workers will be needed for entry-level positions, which is where this new IBM training program will focus. The study says that those demands for entry-level workers trained with these skills provide proof that generative AI is creating a demand for new roles and skills in the marketplace.

To bring the program to fruition, IBM said it will collaborate with universities around the world to broaden AI training efforts and will leverage IBM’s network of experts to bring success to the program. Faculty members within the universities will be given access to IBM-led training such as lectures and immersive skilling experiences, as well as courseware for classroom use, including self-directed AI learning paths. For students, the program will offer flexible and adaptable resources, including free online courses on generative AI and Red Hat open source technologies, according to IBM.

Through IBM SkillsBuild, Generative AI Training With Free Courses

The IBM SkillsBuild program already offered free coursework in AI fundamentals, chatbots, and important related topics including AI ethics, but it is now being expanded with a new generative AI coursework roadmap and enhanced features to help train new workers. Among the listed courses are Prompt-Writing, Getting Started with Machine Learning, Improving Customer Service with AI, and Generative AI in Action.

AI-enhanced features in the IBM SkillsBuild program will allow each student to tailor their learning paths based on their individual preferences and experiences, which I think will be a powerful feature to accelerate the success of the AI training efforts. Upon the completion of their free AI training coursework, participants will be able to earn IBM-branded digital credentials that are recognized by potential employers as they apply for jobs in the field.

Expanded IBM AI Training: What It Means

As IBM and its partners begin these latest moves to add 2 million trained and skilled workers to the AI and generative AI labor pools by 2026, I cheer these efforts. As AI and generative AI grow in use, the demands for skilled workers who can jump in to meet the challenges of these technologies will only grow around the world.

I applaud IBM and its partners for taking these steps and for finding and securing actionable paths to making these AI training efforts happen within a reasonable amount of time. This program is an example of what technology leaders do and how they take the lead and make things happen.

The free AI skills training will certainly help fill the needs for workers in this field, and I bet it will inspire additional training opportunities as the AI market continues to expand and mature. It will be fascinating to watch as the first recipients of this AI training complete the program and join the workforce over the next 3 years.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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