UNCDF Collaborates with IBM on Digital Futures to Address Digital Skills Gap

UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today announced that it is working with IBM to address the digital skills gap by delivering digital learning to youth and women, as part of UNCDF’s Digital Futures initiative.

IBM will support the implementation of Digital Futures through the IBM SkillsBuild initiative to offer digital and workforce skills training for students and job seekers.

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 mobilise 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. The initiative will focus on delivering digital training to youth, women and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) students with a specific geographic emphasis on least developed countries (LDCs). Digital Futures will aim to train 50,000 youth, women and TVET students.

“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,” said UNCDF Executive Secretary Preeti Sinha. “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 endeavour to leave no workforce behind; notably in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.”

Digital Futures will be supported by IBM through IBM SkillsBuild. IBM SkillsBuild is a free, digital training programme aimed at students, educators and job seekers offering access to learning courses, resources, and support focused on reskilling or upskilling 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 cybersecurity, AI, quantum computing, or data analysis, as well as workplace skills.

“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 democratise opportunity and fill the growing digital skills gap,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, Vice President, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG. “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.”

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.

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

“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.”

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.