“It’s never too late to start, restart or even change a career”: the SkillsBuild Program explained by Lisa Neddam, Education Offering Manager at IBM

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5 years ago



The SkillsBuild Program was officially launched officially on June 17th in Paris!

The SkillsBuild initiative is a Global program led by IBM aiming at supporting populations that need to re-enter the workforce. The program will help people to get training, to start new careers or to change careers. It gathers NGOs (Aurore, Emmaüs France, Fondation Agir Contre l’Exclusion, Fondation des Apprentis d’Auteuil et l’Institut de l’Engagement) and content partners, including Coorpacademy, a Corporate Digital Learning specialist.

During this launch party, we had the chance to sit down with Lisa Neddam, Education Offering Manager at IBM. She’s leading the project at IBM – her mantra is to use technology for the greater good!

Lisa Neddam présentant le programme SkillsBuild lors de la soirée de lancement

Lisa Neddam showcasing the SkillsBuild Program at the launch party on June 17th.

What’s the objective of the SkillsBuild Program launched by IBM?

The SkillsBuild program is geared towards people who are looking for a job, who are in professional re-integration or vocational integration. This can be people that didn’t fit into the educational system, unemployed, migrants, refugees, woman that are getting back to work after a maternity leave, for example: SkillsBuild targets all people needing to be lent a hand to find a job, start careers or change careers.

The idea behind the program is that everyone can acquire or strengthen his or her skills at anytime it matters the most. Digital skills, obviously, but not only: we want to favor the new skills required to evolve in the digital world, professional soft skills, that need to be acquired in order to face the uncertainties of tomorrow’s world. The ability to work in a team, critical thinking, agility – for example. Jobs are under lots of transformation thanks to digital tools, so are the skills necessary to thrive in this environment!

What are SkillsBuild’s pillars?

First, there is the one pillar which consists in developing theoretical skills on a digital training platform, with learning tracks and digital certifications. However, we do think that just the digital training platform is not enough. We need to integrate the platform in more complete training programs. This is why we will implement the project with the help of 5 NGOs: they will provide the platform to their beneficiaries, but also to their coworkers and volunteers. We want to support the work that’s being done already by volunteers, to integrate it to existing items. Indeed, once someone is out of the professional world, that person needs a better and richer support program than just a training platform.

IBM will organize in the meantime acquired skills application projects, that’ll allow learners on the platform to acquire a first professional experience in the digital world.

Finally, the program offers employability coaching. There will job matching tools on the platform that will allow participants to look for professional opportunities on the basis of their own digital skills. On the other hand, there will be an ecosystem of employers ready to recruit on the basis of skills and not on the basis of education. The idea is to test the skills in a different way, to have a different recruitment mode based on skills and not prestigious universities.

Part of the training will be run through a digital training platform. How do you think you will avoid the digital tools’ fear of adoption that can sometimes occur?

Often, there is a lack of maturity on digital topics and this can block the adoption of new tools: SkillsBuild is also an opportunity for these associations to set up the digital platform for their employees and volunteers.

In this vision of upskilling, these 5 NGOs will be able to suggest and work on their own digital transformation projects. These projects will be delivered by IBM experts in a skills sponsoring logic. Before this, IBM was doing these kind of projects in a “closed circle” with associations, and now we’ll use this as opportunities to put skills into practice, by opening the projects to learners either in shadowing or in active participation. We’re looking for a win-win ecosystem in which associations can help their beneficiaries in upskilling and getting a job while working on their own digital transformation.

At IBM, we have set up a dedicated team of Digital Success Managers full-time from July 1st to support the platform adoption and stickiness of learners and to help associations and learners. 5 people will be dedicated to learners in a sponsoring skills logic for the platform to be used as its best!

L'équipe de Digital Success Managers d'iBM pour le projet SkillsBuildIBM’s Digital Success Managers, who are full-time from July 1st to support the people targeted by the program.

To sum up the project, it’s a mix we think smart between projects, online resources, skills sponsoring, mentoring and coaching. In addition to the digital tool, we do think that the support has to be rich. The final goal is to maximize engagement, adoption, stickiness, for people to find their spot again in the professional world and to be happy where they will be.

Can you speak to us about the associations that are partnering with SkillsBuild (Aurore, Emmaüs France, Fondation Agir Contre l’Exclusion, Fondation des Apprentis d’Auteuil and l’Institut de l’Engagement)?

These associations are working with diverse types of populations but all need support to get back to the professional world. Some focus on young adults, other on migrants, long-time unemployed people or entrepreneurs to be.

These are all big names in the NGOs world in France, and they have the necessary infrastructures to welcome a program like this and make it work!

They contacted us through IBM’s network and the selection went naturally from there.

Why did you choose Coorpacademy as a content provider for this project?

First of all, we didn’t want to do this project through an IBM platform, we wanted an open platform, a different one. IBM already has a lot of online training platforms, but we needed the right pedagogical methods, the best content, we wanted to partner with the best in their fields.

What we like at Coorpacademy is the pedagogy – which is different from IBM’s one – the gamification, the microlearning, the global accessibility of the platform. We wanted a balance between corporate content – content from IBM – and content with different approaches and different pedagogical methods.

The program will contain 3 training tracks. One will focus on Digital Culture with Coorpacademy, the 2 other ones will be more specializing ones: one on customer support and care, the other on web programming with CodeDoor.

Armelle Lavergne présentant le projet SkillsBuild lors de la soirée de lancement du 17 juinArmelle Lavergne, Head of Content and Partnerships at Coorpacademy, was presenting Coorpacademy at the launch party. 


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