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Youngstown State University partnering with IBM to fill high-tech workforce needs

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The YSU IT Workforce Accelerator program is designed to provide training to fill local demand in the artificial intelligence field

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State has a new partner — IBM — to help match students with careers. A new area of focus is on the skills needed for high-tech jobs.

The skills gap — employers not being able to find workers with the right skills — remains a major problem.

YSU and IBM have teamed up to fill that gap in the field of artificial intelligence.

“Up to 85% of the jobs in 2030 have not yet been invented,” said Tim Wood, with IBM.

Artificial intelligence is a growing field, expected to create more than 130 million new jobs by 2022. According to IBM, close to 12 million U.S. workers may need to be retrained or reskilled as a result.

IBM is helping YSU create the IT Workforce Accelerator. It’s a pre-apprenticeship training program to help local companies train area workers for the high-tech jobs of the future.

“Get the experience, build the confidence, understand they have the aptitude to do this if they have the curiosity,” said Jennifer Oddo, the apprenticeship program manager.

IBM believes the “new collar” jobs will require in-demand skills, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree in technology-related fields such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and even cybersecurity.

YSU wants to create opportunities and align them with the needs of business and industry.

“The whole thing with the brain gain versus the brain drain — this, in our eyes, is one more way to contribute toward giving opportunities for people to stay right here,” said YSU President Jim Tressel.

Apprenticeship opportunities will be available for students in degree and nondegree education tracks. IBM will provide education and enablement support.

“That is what the YSU IT Workforce Accelerator is all about,” said YSU Provost Brien Smith. “It will unlock new channels for our students and workers in the community.”

The pre-apprenticeship program takes roughly 80 hours and will be launching soon.

The university also will provide administrative support to employers looking to hire apprentices.

YSU has started a website where workers and businesses can get updates.

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