IBM gets 'Smarter Planet' training grant

A $321,853 state grant is targeting 300 IBM Rochester workers for retraining with a "Smarter Planet" curriculum to be developed by Rochester Community and Technical College.

The grant is coming from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program, which is part of the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. IBM will contribute more than $600,000 to the job training program with an "in-kind" donation.

"The purpose of this is to increase the skills of workers at a business," says Kirsten Morell, DEED spokeswoman. "We think this is a really important program. It has a long history and has done a lot throughout the state to help train workers in various businesses in various industries to keep their skills in top shape."

Under the two-year grant announced this morning, software engineers, research and development engineers, sales architects and consulting services staff will be trained in three areas: smart sensors, network connectivity and quantitative analysis.

The resulting courses, expected to begin next year, will be taught on the IBM campus, says Sara Bunge, business and workforce education manager for RCTC.


She says RCTC is currently managing eight grants in various stages from the Job Skills Partnership.

The grant program, which is managed by a state board, issues such grants throughout the year to upgrade employee skills. In 2010 so far, the program has made 36 grants totaling $4.1 million.

These grants also help colleges and schools develop new courses that can be used outside of this program.

"…Rochester Community and Technical College will increase its ability to meet the ongoing educational needs of IBM and other regional businesses," said Dan McElroy, DEED commissioner and MJSP board chair, in this morning's announcement.

This is second education program that IBM Rochester has recently worked on with RCTC and the state. A course on business acumen and cultural adaptability was developed in recent years.

That course is now taught at all IBM campuses, says Mary Welder, IBM Rochester spokeswoman.

The focus at IBM now is on rolling out its Smarter Planet Initiative, which focuses on more efficient methods of running or managing the core systems of cities, electrical grids, transportation operations and factories through monitoring and analysis.

Welder says this new education program fits well with the Smarter Planet goals.


It is an project that allows IBM "…To partner to create opportunities to help the world work better and to improve skills and opportunities, not just for IBMers, but for others, too."

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