RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — IBM says six historically Black universities in five Southern states will be getting cybersecurity centers aimed at training underrepresented communities.
In a news release the company said the schools are Xavier University of Louisiana, the Southern University System in Louisiana, North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Clark Atlanta and Morgan State universities. IBM says it plans more than 20 of these centers at historically Black colleges and universities nationwide.
“NC A&T State University being chosen as one of the first six HBCU Cybersecurity Leadership Centers is a great privilege that will provide our students with access to top-notch education, technology, and industry professionals and will ensure the future cybersecurity workforce will be diverse, experienced, and capable of protecting this country,” said Hossein Sarrafzadeh, Director of the Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach, in a statement. “IBM recognizes the untapped talent at HBCUs and with this investment they are building a cybersecurity education infrastructure that will propel underrepresented communities to the forefront of security leadership.”
IBM announced education initiatives with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Specialisterne Foundation, and the six Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) last week.
Part of the plan is to provide no-cost STEM job training to U.S. military veterans, neurodivergent learners worldwide, and university students from underrepresented communities in the U.S.
These collaborations underscore IBM’s focus on providing STEM job training to traditionally underrepresented communities as part of its commitment to skill 30 million people worldwide by 2030 to create equitable, inclusive economic opportunities while also addressing a longstanding STEM job skills shortage impacting the business community.
In 2021, IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna pledged for IBM to partner with HBCUs to establish Cybersecurity Leadership Centers, with the goal of building a more diverse U.S. cyber workforce. Today, IBM is announcing the first six of more than 20 Cybersecurity Leadership Centers with the following HBCUs and HBCU systems: North Carolina A&T State University, Southern University System, Clark Atlanta University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Morgan State University, South Carolina State University.
Participant universities will have access to a customized, multi-year cybersecurity experience with IBM, including cybersecurity curricula, cloud access, and an immersive learning experience to expand HBCUs’ capacity to develop top talent in the cybersecurity sector.
IBM will develop for each HBCU, a customized IBM Security Learning Academy portal – IBM client offering – including courses designed to help the university enhance its cybersecurity education portfolio. In addition, IBM will continue to give access to IBM Academic Programs.
Immersive learning experience: HBCUs’ faculty and students will have an opportunity to benefit from IBM Security’s Command Center, through which they can experience a highly realistic, simulated cyberattack, designed to prepare them and train them on response techniques. Moreover, HBCUs’ faculty will have access to consultation sessions with IBM technical personnel on cybersecurity.
Cloud access: IBM will provide faculty and students with no-cost access to multiple SaaS IBM Cloud environments.
Specialisterne Foundation: Together with the Specialisterne Foundation, IBM SkillsBuild will be tailored to the job training needs of neurodivergent individuals across 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, UK, U.S.). Specialisterne Foundation helps harness the talents of autistic persons and those with profiles such ADHD, OCD, and dyslexia.
IBM is committed to extending skills training and technology credentials to individuals from underrepresented communities and will continue to pursue new and enhanced education partnerships like these.
“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 credentialling,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, Vice President, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG. “That’s why we’re uniting the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors to cultivate STEM talent from underrepresented communities to address the world’s most critical challenges.”
In 2020, Manpower Group found that the talent shortage in the U.S. has more than tripled over 10 years, with 69% of employers surveyed struggling to fill skilled positions, up from just 14% in 2010. By September 2021, there were more than 1.2 million U.S. job vacancies postings in software-related professions, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.