July 19, 2023
Global VP of Education and Workforce Development, IBM
The United States is grappling with a significant skill shortage, leading employers to compete for talent who possess the right skills and competencies. A recent Manpower report revealed that 77% of employers struggle to find qualified workers — marking a 17-year record.
Simultaneously, traditional higher education enrollment is declining. Employers are estimating that 44% of worker skills will face disruptions or changes in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum’s job report. These challenges are motivating efforts to find solutions.
Lydia Logan, Global Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at IBM, spoke to attendees during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s T3 Innovation Network Mid-Year Meeting about IBM’s dedication to the future of work along with the company’s implementation of digital badges and credentials on a global scale. Furthermore, Logan’s programs within IBM are helping the company’s pledge to scale 30 million people worldwide by 2030.
Learning and Development Programs Can Expand Pathways
IBM is expanding careers in technology through its apprenticeship program, which offers nearly 30 different job roles from cybersecurity to AI and digital design. The program allows participants to earn and learn simultaneously, earning official recognition from the American Council on Education for over 40 college credits. This covers 80% of an associate degree with no cost to the apprentice.
“Our application developer role recently was evaluated by ACE for recommended 51 credit hours,” Logan continued. “We're currently working with community colleges to seamlessly transfer these credits and add complementary courses that would lead to an associate's degree for applicants.”
Since IBM’s inception, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development for its employees has been a trademark.
“Today, we continue to invest in learning and development programs,” Logan said. “Our employees are expected to complete a minimum of 40 hours of professional development annually to continuously build their skills and remain competitive in today's marketplace.”
Employees exceeded this expectation with roughly 88 hours — or a combined 22 million learning hours — completed in 2022.
“Nine out of 10 IBMers now have the skills of the future, compared to three out of 10 when we started the initiative five years ago,” Logan explained.
Implementing Credentials and Digital Badges Helps Track Skills Building
IBM attributes the success of professional development hours to implementing credentials — particularly digital badges — which play a crucial role in tracking learning progress and skills acquisition. The company has over 2,800 badge offerings, and nearly 6.5 million badges have been issued globally since its start in 2017.
“These credentials provide employees a portable means of carrying their learning achievements along on their career journeys,” Logan said.
The comprehensive badging program at IBM spans various teams, from corporate social responsibility to human resource to ecosystem teams, and features credentials to build the most in-demand skills in the market — AI, cloud, and security — along with offering strong business partner programs and training programs.
“We promote the value proposition of earning credentials to all IBMers, emphasizing that IBM digital badges provide validated proof of skill achievements on various levels,” Logan explained. “Employees can earn credentials in areas important to IBM's business strategy, while also building their personal skill depth and careers along the way.”
Badges Have a Strong Impact on Business
IBM’s culture emphasizes continuous learning and earning credentials, which are used to signal the necessary skills for business outcomes, identify talent, and place employees on projects.
“We also have used [badges] for candidates for internal job roles and for movement around the company,” Logan said. “Managers and coaches look to badges to help employees, close skill gaps, build eminence, deepen skills, and increase employability inside and outside of IBM.”
Top performers at IBM earn 50% more badges and double the high-stakes credentials when compared to less engaged employees, according to Logan. Those with badges show higher engagement in company surveys, and employees with deep skill level badges are less likely to leave voluntarily.
“As a large employer with a big belief and putting a lot of effort and resources behind our internal badge system and the external global market that will help people get back to work, IBM wants to be an active participant and a partner,” Logan explained.