IBM and Usher’s New Look to train students in technology and AI

a diverse group of young people smiling and posing for a picture

IBM and Usher’s New Look (UNL) have announced a new collaboration through IBM SkillsBuild to create access to technology training for young people from communities historically underrepresented in technology.

The partnership was announced at the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas, with the duo pledging to provide free career readiness training through IBM SkillsBuild, offering customized learning plans for student learners with a focus on AI and professional workplace skills.

The collaboration aims to benefit thousands of UNL’s young learners nationwide, including high school and college-age youth from traditionally underrepresented communities. The initiative also aligns with IBM’s commitment to train two million people in AI through 2026.

The team’s efforts were motivated by the belief that AI will shape the workforce of the future, in addition to a recent US YouGov survey on AI in Education, which showed that 61 percent of respondents reported it is very or somewhat necessary for K-12 education students in the US to learn AI-related skills for their future careers.

“It’s a privilege for IBM to join forces with Usher’s New Look in making a real difference for promising young learners from communities that have been historically underrepresented in technology,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, VP and chief impact officer at IBM. “As AI continues to be a driving force in the workplace, we believe that IBM SkillsBuild is well-positioned to help students develop the technology skills they’ll need to succeed.”

The technology training is a key addition to UNL’s existing curriculum across leadership, financial literacy and career readiness, with IBM becoming its first technology education partner.

The customized learning plans for student learners will be designed to match their learning levels, providing a simple and enriching experience, which will include AI courses such as: resume-writing with generative AI; building your own AI chatbot; and mastering AI prompting.

In addition, the team will offer professional coursework on skills like public speaking and job interview readiness to provide students with a foundational understanding of AI and prepare them for their career searches.

Careshia Moore, president and CEO of Usher’s New Look, said: “Usher’s New Look is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to expand their way of thinking and to discover pathways to success. 

“Access to AI and other innovative technological advances will help our students become productive members of today’s competitive workforce. We are thrilled to embark on such a dynamic and timely partnership with IBM to help ensure the future of our students.”

In addition, students will have access to more than 1,000 free courses in IBM SkillsBuild as well as digital credentials, including coursework in AI fundamentals, GenAI, AI ethics, prompt writing, machine learning, AI to help the environment and improving customer service with AI.