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IBM boss pledges to hire 25,000 Americans in next four years

Once the US government has paid for their training

By Iain Thomson, 14 Dec 2016

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, has pledged to recruit 25,000 Americans to Big Blue over the next four years, but wants Uncle Sam to pay for it.

Her vow comes as Rometty and fellow US tech bosses today met president-elect Donald Trump in New York City to talk about jobs and regulations. What great timing.

In an op-ed in USA Today, Rometty said that IBM had plenty of jobs left unfilled – which must come as something of a surprise to the thousands of people Big Blue has been showing the door to quarter after quarter. But those were established employees who were paid well – what Rometty is after are entry-level staff.

She said that we should stop thinking about blue collar or white collar jobs, but instead train for what she calls "collar jobs." These can be filled by people without a college degree, just a bit of vocational training.

"To create new collar jobs we will need new kinds of collaboration – involving federal and state governments, public school systems, community colleges and private business, across multiple industries," she said. "We will not always agree, but progress in job creation will come from open discussion and engagement."

Specifically, Rometty wants the US government to pass an update to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides over $1bn to federal work-study programs. Currently some of this goes to pay for support and clerical work, but it could be used to fund tech training or job placements at IBM instead, she argued.

The piece is bound to raise a few eyebrows, given Big Blue's history under Rometty's reign. She has overseen massive offshoring of jobs, round after round of layoffs, and the gutting of entire departments at IBM.

"IBM has terminated workers for 18 straight quarters," Sara Blackwell, a Florida attorney representing former Big Blue workers who have been laid off, told The Register. "It now has more workers in India than in the US."

But now there's a new person heading for the White House – one who ran on a pledge to bring jobs back into the US and is willing to pay companies like Carrier to do it. Rometty, ever the savvy political player, seems to have seen which way the wind is blowing and wants some of that sweet federal cash to flow IBM's way. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing