Combating Skills Shortage, IBM Hosts University Workshops

IBM is bringing its application development technologies right through the front doors of academia.

As part of a larger effort to combat the shortage of skills in the IT marketplace, IBM is bringing its application development technologies right through the front doors of academia.

The company is hosting its first statewide university workshop to boost student application development skills Aug. 1-3 at North Carolina State University and including schools from all over the state.

The free three-day IT architect workshop is intended to help universities incorporate application development concepts into their academic disciplines.

Architects will lead classes, lab work and discussions around application development trends using IBM Rational Software Technologies.

This workshop is part of IBMs 2-year old Academic Initiative, which supplies universities with free software and discounted hardware in hopes to offer students an alternative to Windows technologies.

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In this program, IBM works directly with universities to develop computer science curricula.

"The academic initiative has been around IBM for several years, but we re-announced it in 2004 as a program to work with universities and colleges to get students training on open standards and IBM technology," said Heather McClain, manager of strategy and operations, IBM Academic Initiative.

So far, more than 2,500 universities have incorporated this content into their curricula, extending the coursework to more than 290,000 students.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2010, one out of every four jobs will be in IT—and colleges and universities would have to quadruple their number of graduates by 2008 in order to meet this demand.

Meanwhile, a recent IBM survey of more than 400 CEOs worldwide found that 75 percent cited deficits in their employees job skills as the biggest barrier to growth and innovation.

"The need for IT is inclining, but the number of students graduating with the requisite knowledge is flat," said McClain.

"Studying information technologies, you can really write your own ticket, especially if you are a woman or minority," said McClain.

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