- Another corporate-university partnership is underway that is designed to produce high-tech workers for a region experts say is lagging in those fields, in this case between IBM and the University of Louisville, The Courier-Journal reported.
- The IBM Skills Academy, slated to open this fall in the university's new Center for Digital Transformation, will offer faculty training, as well as courses in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity, data science and quantum computing for university credit or IBM digital credentials.
- IBM expects to launch three similar skills academies elsewhere in the U.S. At U of Louisville, the program has an estimated value of $5 million per year and includes the use of cloud technology and software. It is open to students across the university.
Skills-based, boot camp-style training is growing in popularity as a way to help colleges that are struggling to attract new students and keep their curriculum up to date with rapid, technology-driven changes across industries.
Evidence of that can be found in recent moves by online program managers (OPMs) to snatch up these companies and add them to the stack of services they offer their institutional clients. So far this year, Zovio (formerly Bridgepoint) bought boot camp provider Fullstack Academy and 2U snagged Trilogy, which partners with universities to run skills training programs.
Momentum is building among universities, too. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Continuing Education partnered with the coding school Thinkful to train web developers and software engineers. It marks the New York City-based coding school's first university partnership and indicates such programs will need to approach smaller, regional economies differently from the large, populous and economically diverse coastal cities.
"Tech is growing faster in small cities in the U.S. than it is in San Francisco," Thinkful CEO and co-founder Darrell Silver told the Milwaukee Business News. "The need for skilled labor is just incredibly high."
For its part, Louisville hopes to dramatically increase the number of tech workers it employs to offset local jobs lost to automation, Louisville Business First reported. Educating students and reskilling workers in these new fields will be critical to achieving that growth, the publication noted.
Across the U.S., the boot camp and skills-training sector is growing rapidly. However, the extent of that growth is limited by most programs' lack of eligibility for federal Title IV funding, explains a recent report from the Clayton Christensen Institute. Should Title IV funding be unlocked, the report recommends an outcomes-based approach to avoid unchecked expansion that could lead to quality concerns.
Other ways colleges and universities are expanding their offerings in emerging fields such as AI and data science include the development of interdisciplinary centers of excellence. In some cases, these involve partnerships with the private sector that align with their own moves in the market. One example comes from Hewlett Packard, which gave the University of Houston $10 million to open one such institute as it adds a corporate campus in the area.