Career development


At IBM we're developing new ways for people to think, interact, manage their businesses and govern their lives. But first and foremost, we're about people.

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IBM prides itself on attracting the best and the brightest individuals and is committed to ensuring these individuals continue this momentum by not only enhancing the skills they may already have, but also by continuing to develop new skills throughout their career. This includes the types of training an employee needs to do their current and future jobs as well as other areas outside of their work that will broaden ones experience base.

Employees at IBM are encouraged to take control of their own skills and development and learn to identify resources, build relationships and use personalized learning to their advantage. With the support and tremendous investment that IBM has put forth in continuous, on-demand learning, employees have a plethora of learning offerings and resources to help grow their career.

IBM has structured its career development framework around an expertise taxonomy, whereby everyone in the company uses the same “language” as it relates to skills and expertise. Hundreds of job roles are included in this taxonomy, along with the skills required to perform those jobs. The career development framework provides a structure for employees to follow specific guidance on how to grow skills in the various job roles and how to validate that they have gained such capability.

Expertise Assessment

It is important that before jumping into a career development plan that employees understand what value and skills they bring to the table. At IBM all employees are encouraged to assess their skills based on their job role in an enterprise-wide application for assessing expertise and skills. Expertise Assessment helps employees identify their gaps between their current skill levels and expected targets. Once an employee completes an expertise assessment and skill gaps are identified, the Expertise Assessment tool will recommend specific learning recommendations to close skill gaps. The employee can then leverage a website called "Learning@IBM Explorer" to manage their development activities needed to help grow employees’ careers.

Learning@IBM Explorer Website

Learning@IBM Explorer is the entry point for personalized learning and career development guidance on IBM’s intranet. The guidance located on this site is targeted to employees based on an employee profile that identifies their job roles and skill levels. On a continuous basis, Learning@IBM Explorer offers various e-learning, a selection of classroom offerings available, and other resources that help employees select the appropriate learning and development activities that are right for them. These learning activities are pushed to the employee via the intranet based on their profile, therefore offering employees on-demand personalized learning recommendations. The employee has an ability to tailor their education even further by identifying which skills are priorities for them to focus on via the Expertise Assessment. Learning@IBM Explorer will continue to push new solutions to fill those skill gaps until the employee chooses to focus on a different set of skills.

At the click of a mouse, Learning@IBM Explorer allows employees to create a dynamic learning plan, find specific learning recommendations based on their job role / business unit / and country, add their own activities that fit their needs and track their progress – all in one learning location. In addition, employees can get personalized career guidance about their current job role – or explore skill and development needs for other job roles of interest. This is one of several key tools that IBM is supporting to focus on PERSONALIZED career development as a company priority.

Your Career Portlet

In addition to offering personalized learning, IBM offers a tool that helps employees manage their career-related tasks in an easy, consistent and coordinated way, enabling a continuous focus on career development. The Your career portlet provides employees personalized actions and status items related to their career development, along with access to the key resources/activities related to career planning, training, and career development, all in one place. Based on the employee’s profile, the Your career portlet brings together all the important information they need at their fingertips, such as their career development plan, their expertise assessment profile (skills profile), their personal business commitments and their resume. As well, the portlet delivers links to common career tasks to help employees find available projects, jobs, mentors, as well as career guidance.

Individual Development Plan

IBM provides the "Individual Development Plan" to employees to document development plans and monitor their progress throughout the year. Using this tool and updating it on a continuous basis is just one of the ways that IBM helps keep career development alive and at the fore front of employee's mind over the course of the year. With their manager, employees have development discussions where the conversations evolve around improving the employee’s ability to set career goals and steps to achieve those goals. These goals and actions are then documented in the development planning tool.

Blue Opportunities

Blue Opportunities is an initiative designed to help employees take advantage of a range of experience-based learning opportunities such as stretch assignments, cross-unit projects, job rotations, publications, patents, job shadowing and more, that will enhance employees’ careers and expertise. The goal of Blue Opportunities is to develop employees' skills, expand their knowledge and offer exposure to potential career or job changes in a way that they would not typically have exposure to. Opportunities can be a few hours, weeks, months or up to a year, part- or full-time. Participating in a blue opportunity can help employees network within the business, let them experience various roles in the organization first hand and at the same time fulfill their Individual Development Plans. Blue Opportunities is currently rolled in specific Business Units within IBM Canada and other countries around the globe, with plans to expand in 2008.

Classroom Training

Classroom training is available to IBM employees with a range of topics offered: technical, professional skills and certification. This gives employees an opportunity to learn a set of base skills to then apply in their everyday roles. Classroom training is an excellent channel for hands on, face to face learning.


e-learning is a standard way of learning in IBM that is closely tied to our e-business strategy and is a complement to IBM’s traditional classroom offerings. E-learning allows IBMers to not be limited by when and where classroom training is offered. Employees get 24 hour-a-day, on-demand availability of the thousands of on-line learning offerings IBM provides.


In order to succeed in today's competitive environment, corporations must create a workplace climate that encourages employees to continue to learn and grow. While mentoring at IBM focuses on career guidance and socialization, it also responds to the need to preserve expert knowledge. Mentoring provides a robust way to continually pass on critical knowledge and skills as a legacy of organizational capabilities and intelligence to the next generation. IBM encourages employees to be mentored and to mentor others, as it’s a win-win situation for the business. Mentees in mentorship relationships gain a wealth of knowledge and career development advice, while mentors gain perspective on their own careers by grooming promising mentees.

Tuition refund

When you take approved courses on your own time, IBM will reimburse you 100% of required fees such as tuition ($1200/course maximum), registration and text books, upon satisfactory completion. The purpose of the Tuition Refund program is to encourage employees to increase their effectiveness in the current job role and their potential to assume different or greater responsibilities within IBM through voluntary participation in external education programs outside regular working hours.