IBM launches $70 million 'New Collar Jobs' digital initiative in Africa

By Bernie Monegain
04:03 PM
Big Blue aims to reach up to 25 million millennials across the continent to develop STEM skills.
IBM new collar jobs Africa

Photo courtesy of IBM

IBM is spending $70 million to advance digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help build a 21st century workforce in Africa.

“IBM Digital – Nation Africa,” provides a cloud-based learning platform of free programs over five years for as many as 25 million African youths. The goal is to bolster digital competence and innovation as part of the company’s global push to build the next generation of skills needed for “New Collar” careers – a term IBM employs to describe new types of careers that require sought-after skills in cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence and cloud.

As IBM executives put it, IBM Digital – Nation Africa is designed to help raise digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers able to tap into cognitive engines and enable entrepreneurs to build businesses around the new solutions.

“IBM sees effective, high quality IT education as a key driver of economic vitality in Africa,” Hamilton Ratshefola, country general manager for IBM South Africa, said in a statement. “Through access to open standards, best practices, IBM tools, and course materials, the broad scope of this initiative will enable vital skills development.”

Through a free, cloud-based online learning environment delivered on the IBM Bluemix cloud platform for business, the initiative will offer a range of programs from basic IT literacy to advanced IT skills including social engagement, digital privacy and cybersecurity.

Advanced users will be able to explore career-oriented IT topics including programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, as well as critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

IBM’s cognitive technology, Watson, will help by reviewing the multiple interactions the education initiative will have with students, to help direct them to the right courses and help IBM refine the courses to their needs.

The company will launch the program from its regional offices in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Egypt, and expand it across the continent.

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