Usher’s New Look Embarks on AI-Focused Collaboration with IBM to Set Students up for Career Success

by savoystaff

Usher’s New Look (UNL) and IBM created a collaboration to provide free career readiness training through IBM SkillsBuild. With a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and professional workplace skills, IBM will provide UNL with training and customized learning plans for student learners. This effort aims to benefit thousands of UNL’s young learners nationwide, including high school and college-age youth from communities traditionally underrepresented in technology.

It’s increasingly important for students to be equipped with a fundamental understanding of AI and how this technology will shape the workforce of the future. In a recent U.S. YouGov survey on AI in Education, 61% of respondents reported it is very or somewhat necessary for K-12 students 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, IBM Vice President & Chief Impact Officer. “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.”

Careshia Moore, President and CEO of Usher’s New Look, added, “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.”

UNL, a leading nonprofit organization that transforms the lives of under-resourced youth through education, public service, and leadership development, will offer learners enhanced IBM SkillsBuild coursework.  This technology training is an important addition to UNL’s existing curriculum across leadership, financial literacy, and career-readiness, with IBM as its first education technology partner.

UNL and IBM’s education experts are developing customized learning plans for student learners to match their learning levels, providing a simple and enriching experience, which will include AI courses such as:

  • Resume-writing with generative AI;
  • Build your own AI chatbot; and
  • Mastering the art of AI prompting.

Together with professional coursework on skills like public speaking and job interview readiness, these customized learning plans will provide students with a foundational understanding of AI and prepare them for their career searches.

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, generative AI, AI ethics, prompt writing, machine learning, AI to help the environment, and improving customer service with AI.

Communities helped by UNL span the United States including AtlantaChicagoDetroitLos AngelesMilwaukee, and New York City. Across these cities and through online learning, UNL will integrate IBM SkillsBuild into its Disruptivator Clubs, Leadership Academy Initiatives, Moguls in Training Program, and the 2024 UNL Disruptivator Summit to be held in Atlanta this July as the largest youth conference in the nation.

The news was announced at SXSW EDU, where Lydia Logan, IBM’s VP of Global Education and Workforce Development, participated in a panel discussion on skills-first practices as a catalyst for inclusive socioeconomic mobility.

The collaboration will emphasize IBM SkillsBuild courses and credentials focused on AI and professional, durable workplace skills. As such, the effort with UNL is part of IBM’s commitment to train two million in AI through 2026.

Photo credit: (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

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