- IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said at the World Economic Forum’s 2019 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that the most pressing issue of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is the “skills crisis” that would leave workers behind.
- She said in-demand “new-collar jobs” won’t require a four-year degree, and that IBM has had success with its vocational schools and apprenticeship programs.
- This article is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
We’re at the beginning of a new age in the developed world, in which the internet has become further entrenched in every aspect of our lives, and waves of jobs will be replaced by new technologies, including advanced artificial intelligence.
The World Economic Forum likes to call this the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” and at this year’s conference in Davos, Switzerland, it’s asking some of the world’s top business and political leaders to weigh in on how we must adapt.
For IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, of primary importance is ensuring that workers aren’t left behind. “There is a large part of society that does not feel that this is going to be good for their future,” Rometty said at the Financial Times’ panel “Business Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” moderated by the FT’s Roula Khalaf. “We have a really serious duty about this. Because these technologies are moving faster in time than their skills are going to change. So it’s causing the skills crisis.”
Rometty coined the term “new-collar jobs” as a way to identify tech-based jobs that are valuable in today’s economy, and will remain so, but don’t require a four-year college degree or higher – an in-demand job like cloud-computing technician, for example.
IBM has extensive apprenticeship programs for mid-career workers wanting to make a change, and since 2011 has been establishing Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, or P-TECH schools, that are six-year vocational schools. There are now more than 100 of them in 13 countries and 11 states, and IBM has partnered with about 500 companies to provide work and mentorship for P-TECH students.
Rometty said businesses are ideally poised to assist with this transition and corporate leadership has to venture beyond hiring solely from top-ranked universities, adding that it’s necessary to “change your paradigm of hiring” to accommodate this change.
“We as a company are passionate that if we don’t fix this issue, to bridge this skill right now, at the rate it’s moving, you will have unrest,” Rometty said. “And so people have to have a route in.”
You can watch the full panel below: