YSU and IBM Create Opportunities for Penguins Seeking IT Skills 

YSU and IBM partnership members pose for a photo during a news conference on Nov. 13 in Tod Hall. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Brien Smith, Tim Wood, Jennifer Oddo and YSU President Jim Tressel.

By Amanda Joerndt

A new initiative is in the works for Youngstown State University students and local community members who are eager to have a diverse range of credentials on their resumes. 

YSU recently partnered with IBM to bring a new and innovative program called the IT Workforce Accelerator to the community for jobs in technology and hardware industries. 

The program will provide pre-apprenticeship training and an apprenticeship program for individuals on the hunt to gain versatile IT skills.

Participants will become ready for work in fields such as software engineering, data science, analytics, cybersecurity and mainframe systems administration.

YSU President Jim Tressel said this program will be a “bonus opportunity” for individuals looking to gain an extra skill set.

“It’s a separate entity, and the curriculum is created at no cost,” Tressel said. “It’s a bonus opportunity for our people on campus to find another pathway, another badge to add to their list of things on their transcript, and also perhaps some of our students that have stepped out.”

According to Tressel, the program is a reaction to the “needs of the IT world.”

“In this world, versatility is critical, especially IT versatility,” Tressel said. “It’s really just another pathway.”

Tressel said this is an opportunity for someone who may have fallen off the four-year degree path.

“Maybe someone that’s further along in their life that’s displaced in their job and not really loving their job, boom, they can come back. And it might lead them to want to get their four-year degree along with it,” he said.

Tim Wood, a vice president at IBM Global Business Services and IBM’s senior Ohio executive, said over 700,000 jobs are unfilled in the technology workforce across the United States.

“Closing the scale gaps is critical for moving not only as an individual’s challenge, but it’s becoming a national imperative,” Wood said. “Companies in areas such as health care and agriculture are struggling to find candidates with the right skills.”

YSU and IBM partnership members pose for a photo during a news conference
on Nov. 13 in Tod Hall. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Brien Smith, Tim Wood, Jennifer Oddo and YSU President Jim Tressel. Photo by Amanda Joerndt/The Jambar

According to Wood, IBM plans to partner with public and private sectors to work together in addressing this nationwide problem.

“According to a panel of experts assembled by the Institute of the Future, up to 85% of the jobs in 2030 have not yet been invented,” he said. “This IBM-designed initiative will provide pre-apprentice training and apprenticeship-program advocate enablement so local companies can train area workers.” 

Wood said not only is this an initiative to help close the IT job gap but it also helps individuals in their “learning journey.” 

“Whether they are students, individuals switching careers or just trying to improve their technical proficiency, IBM wants to build on this initiative so we can adapt to the communities nationwide and get people ready for these jobs in the future,” he said. 

According to Wood, YSU is leading the way for a successful initiative that will create opportunity and fill the needs within the community. 

“IBM applauds Youngstown State University for its leadership and is proud to partner with the university to make this happen,” he said.

Brien Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at YSU, said YSU looks for ways to assist in Youngstown’s economic development.

“With this IBM workforce accelerator, one of the main visions is for people in the local area who are out of a job or looking for a way to advance their career. They can take part in an apprenticeship with significant local companies,” Smith said. 

He said although the initiative is not a degree program, students can learn different skills during their education career at YSU. 

“IBM is allowing us to use their course work for free,” Smith said. “They can earn those IBM credentials and be able to stack on top of a YSU degree.”

For more information on the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, visit the YSU website at ysu.edu/workforce-accelerator