IBM joins UN body to help provide digital skills in developing countries

Nixon-Saintil said IBM is committed to investing in the future of work and to provide free education on disruptive technologies, which is why the company is excited to partner with UNDCF on Digital Futures to help democratize opportunity.
In Summary

The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has teamed up with IBM to help equip women and […]

The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has teamed up with IBM to help equip women and youth with the digital skills that will help them become more employable.

UNCDF said during mid-week, the Digital Futures initiative will endeavour to deliver advanced digital and 21st century workforce skills in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Digital Futures is designed to mobilize an international digital and workforce skills partnership ecosystem to deliver digital skills training, consisting of public and private sector organizations as well as educational institutions and donors.

UNCDF executive secretary, Preeti Sinha said, “The key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals agenda is to scale all impactful solutions, including solutions to enhance digital literacy and to strengthen skills building to ensure competitiveness in the global digital economy and in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

She said, “Our partnership with IBM will look to leverage their expertise in digital skills building alongside our primary commitment to serve the LDCs. Through this, now global partnership, IBM and UNCDF will endeavor to leave no workforce behind; notably in Africa, Asia and the Pacific”

The US-based technology giant will support the implementation of Digital Futures through the IBM SkillsBuild initiative. IBM SkillsBuild is a free, digital training program aimed at students, educators and job seekers offering access to learning courses, resources, and support focused on reskilling or up-skilling learning on core technology and workforce skills needed to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.

IBM SkillsBuild operates in 159 countries, offering over 1,000 courses in 19 languages in technical disciplines such as cyber-security, AI, quantum computing, or data analysis, as well as workplace skills.

According to Justina Nixon-Saintil, the Vice President, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG,  “At IBM, we are committed to investing in the future of work and to provide free education on disruptive technologies, which is why we’re excited to partner with UNDCF on Digital Futures to help democratize opportunity and fill the growing digital skills gap.”

“We look forward to working together with UNCDF and help prepare youth and women in Africa, Asia and the Pacific for in-demand technology jobs in the market as part of IBM’s commitment to equitably skill 30 million people worldwide by 2030,” she said.

As of February 2022, IBM SkillsBuild has helped 1.72 million students and job seekers globally to complete 4 million learning hours in cyber-security, data analysis, and other technical disciplines.

UNCDF will lead in the implementation and execution of Digital Futures with a pilot phase already underway in East and Southern Africa. Digital Futures will build on the learnings of an ongoing digital skills building programme deployed by UNCDF in collaboration with IBM and the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MInT).

The Digital Futures initiative is an outgrowth of the Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Coalition, which was launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). P2C is a multi-stakeholder alliance to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally, with a focus on but not limited to hardest-to-connect communities in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau said, “I welcome this pledge towards Partner2Connect. The Partner2Connect Coalition is a game-changing opportunity to take a holistic approach, catalyze new partnerships, and mobilize the resources needed to connect those who are still offline.”

“I am calling on all players to step up and help us connect those 2.9 billion that are unconnected. I look forward to welcoming many more pledges soon so that we can truly “Partner2Connect the World,” she said.

Digital Futures will serve as an anchor for P2C’s ambition of rolling out advanced digital and workforce skills relevant for the digital economy and future of work. Digital Futures is one of three initiatives led by UNCDF supported by P2C.

UNCDF offers ‘last mile’ finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

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