When IBM began the skills identification process, the company found that it had literally thousands of entry-level skills that needed to be boiled down to a set that made sense to high school and college faculty, who would map the skills to the curriculum. Brian Piper, Senior Client Services Representative & Researcher, IBM Human Resources, provides some insight into how IBM successfully completed the first part of the skills mapping process for P-TECH Brooklyn.
IBM has thousands and thousands of entry-level skills. How did you net them down to a manageable set that high school and college faculty could use to map to the curriculum for P-TECH Brooklyn?
BP: We started by doing two things. We reviewed the list of entry-level jobs a second time, but looked at them based upon availability and demand. We weeded out some that were not common or were not in-demand hiring areas. We then consolidated the skills. We might have one skill about writing proposals and another about writing for clients, but both are essentially just about writing well in the business context, so we put them together.
We also organized the skills. We categorized skills as technical or professional. We then looked for common themes that ran through skills. We found, for example, that communication and negotiation were skills that cut across all jobs, so they became foundational to all jobs.
How did you avoid having a set of skills that would prepare students only for jobs at IBM?
BP: Basically, we made IBM skills more generic. We would take IBM technical skills and identify the open-source version of what all students need to know. For example, we removed Websphere and replaced it with Apache. If you know Apache, you are well on the road to knowing Websphere. In some cases we knew the alternative, but in some cases we didn’t. When we did not, we reached out to the IBM subject matter expert, and asked them what the alternative would be.
We came up with a list of skills that would make students good candidates for a job at IBM or anywhere else. With the skills that we identified, students can fill jobs for our clients with IT needs — banks, airlines and more.
Students at P-TECH Brooklyn visit IBM’s East Fishkill location as one of their many worksite visits.