Technology company IBM has set out to increase opportunities for underrepresented communities by providing no-cost STEM job training to six historically Black colleges and universities. Last week, they announced the first six of over 20 Cybersecurity Leadership Centers which are to be developed within specific HBCUs and HBCU systems.

Other institutions who will be invited to partake in this program are the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Specialisterne Foundation which supports autistic and neurodivergent individuals.

As stated in a press release from IBM, this program supports the tech corporation's goal to effectively "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." According to a 2020 study from ManPower Group, 69% of U.S. employers are struggling to find skilled workers with skilled trades, with IT, sales and marketing positions being the top three hardest roles to fill.

This collaboration comes after IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna made a pledge to increase their partnerships with HBCUs across the company. Participating HBCUs in IBM's inaugural endeavor include North Carolina A&T State University, Southern University System, Clark Atlanta University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Morgan State University, South Carolina State University. They will have access to a customized, multi-year cybersecurity experience with IBM, including cybersecurity curricula, cloud access, and an immersive learning experience to expand their school's capacity to develop top talent in the cybersecurity sector.