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YSU, IBM partnership creates opportunities

YSU President Jim Tressel says a partnership between the university and IBM will create a program allowing people to get pre-apprenticeship training in needed technical skills for apprenticeships with area companies.

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University and IBM are launching YSU’s Workforce Accelerator, designed to create a series of pre-apprenticeship programs positioning students and others to obtain needed skills for careers of the future.

The program is both for career track and non-career track students, as well as those simply needing to update their skills for specific job opportunities.

The IBM-designed initiative will provide self-paced pre-apprenticeship training and apprenticeship programs in which local companies can train area workers in fields such as software engineering, data science, analytics, cybersecurity and main-frame systems administration.

YSU President Jim Tressel emphasized the new program is designed to help fill the skills gaps that exist in the marketplace, especially when companies need employees with varying levels of technical experience.

According to a 2018 World Economic report, artificial intelligence alone is expected to create more than 130 million new jobs in 2022.

To keep pace, over the next three years close to 12 million workers in the U.S. may need to be retrained or reskilled because of artificial technology and intelligent automation, according to the 2019 IBM Institute of Business Value report

“Workforce Accelerator will be available for YSU students requiring technical skills, general studies students trying to figure out what they want to do, former students that did not finish, people in the midst of changing their careers and those that had been laid off or are in between jobs,” Tressel said. “The pre-apprenticeship brings people that may have limited experience together with companies willing to train them in skills they need.”

“This will be a great opportunity for people looking for a new direction,” he said. “The use of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science and security is rapidly growing.”

The university is putting together a founding group of four to six companies that will provide apprenticeship jobs for candidates. The names of the founding member companies are expected to be announced later.

YSU will serve as a registered apprenticeship program sponsor and help local companies access apprenticeship training and incentives. It will provide support to employers looking to hire apprentices.

Tim Wood, a vice president with IBM’s Global Business Services, said the program is not only for those interested in technical careers, but in health care, agriculture and other career paths where having some technical experience is beneficial.

“There are more than 6 million U.S. jobs that cannot be filled because there are not enough candidates with the skills required to fill them,” Wood said. “There is a need for public and private organizations to work together in training people for these new collar jobs.”

Wood said that 85 percent of the jobs that will be available in 2030 have not been created yet.

“There will be a continuing need for education,” he said. “We have to assure that colleges, universities and educational institutions are aligning their programs to the needs of business. IBM has to work to get people prepared for the jobs of the future.”

IBM and YSU officials are still working out the details of how the program will operate.

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