Monday, June 24, 2024

IBM Partnering to Train Underrepresented Communities in Cybersecurity

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ARMONK, N.Y. — IBM is working with several partners to “tackle” the talent shortage in cybersecurity by training underrepresented communities in the technology.

IBM launched education initiatives with six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Specialisterne Foundation, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide no-cost STEM training to students, neurodivergent learners worldwide, and U.S. military veterans, according to the company last month.

The initiatives are part of IBM’s commitment to train 30 million people worldwide by 2030 on tech skills to create equitable and inclusive “economic opportunities” in the industry.

“We believe that the most promising job candidates for today’s demanding careers will come from communities that may have been historically overlooked or excluded due to outdated hiring policies and old-fashioned credentialing,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, VP of corporate social responsibility and ESG, IBM. 


IBM is partnering with a group of universities to open the first Cybersecurity Leadership Centers at six HBCU schools: North Carolina A&T State University; Southern University System; Clark Atlanta University; Xavier University of Louisiana; Morgan State University; and South Carolina State University.

The centers will have access to a customized, multi-year cybersecurity experience with IBM, including cybersecurity curricula, an immersive learning experience, and SaaS cloud access.

IBM intends for the partnership to expand schools’ capacity to “develop top talent” in the cybersecurity market.

NC A&T State University’s partnership with IBM is “a great privilege” that will help “ensure the future cybersecurity workforce will be diverse, experienced, and capable of protecting this country,” said Hossein Sarrafzadeh, Ph.D., director, Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach at NC A&T State University.

“IBM recognizes the untapped talent at HBCUs,” Sarrafzadeh said.

Specialisterne Foundation

IBM and the Specialisterne Foundation will tailor IBM SkillsBuild to the training needs of individuals who are neurodivergent across 13 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, U.K., and U.S. 

The partnership with IBM will “enable meaningful employment for neurodivergent learners,” said Steen Lohse, CEO and managing director, Specialisterne Foundation.

“We strongly believe that hiring diverse talent increases companies’ success,” Lohse said. 


IBM SkillsBuild will be an enhanced resource for service members who are seeking job training and credentials through the VA to pursue a career after completing their military service. 

IBM will help military veterans pursue customized learning paths and other accelerated, non-traditional job training for technology careers, along with the VA’s Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) Employer Consortium.

Around 250,000 service members a year transition to veteran status, according to the U.S. Department of Defense estimates.

The VA wants veterans to have “as many pathways to employment and career success as possible,” said Michael Frueh, principal deputy under secretary for benefits, VA. 

“This is an urgent need and goes beyond hiring.”

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