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University of the West of Scotland Teams with IBM to Tackle Skills Gap

New courses in business analytics and business modelling prepare students for job opportunities

LONDON, U.K. - 10 Jan 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced an academic collaboration with University of the West of Scotland that gives students access to IBM software and technology training needed to gain new skills in business analytics and business modelling that are increasingly required by employers.

The IBM Academic Initiative is a global programme that facilitates the collaboration between IBM and educators to teach students the technology skills they need to be competitive and keep pace with changes in the workplace. Members of the IBM Academic Initiative get free access to hardware, full-version software, professionally developed courseware, training, books and other discounts.

With almost 17,000 students and around 1,400 staff, University of the West of Scotland is unique in its geographical coverage across the West of Scotland with four campuses in the region. The University has extensive expertise in research and development and collaborative working relationships with companies in the UK and abroad to prepare students for employment upon graduation.

To address the rising skills gap in business analytics, the University’s Faculty of Science and Technology is keen to equip students with the professional skills required in the workplace. Last autumn UWS introduced several new modules to its curriculum including data mining, business intelligence and knowledge management.

By teaming with IBM, students and Faculty members are now benefitting from access to the latest software capabilities and learning how advanced analytics can be applied to tackle complex business and societal challenges. These range from predicting customer buying trends to improving retail sales, helping brand managers gather vital feedback on the success of a marketing campaign to building an efficient healthcare system.

Faced with an ever-increasing stream of unstructured data from a variety of sources, many companies are seeking employees who possess data analytics skills to make sense of the numbers and turn it into meaningful business information.

Professor Malcolm Crowe, from University of the West of Scotland’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said, “Beyond teaching business and IT skills, we are very concerned with employability and future job prospects for students. University of West Scotland is adding new courses in direct response to the recommendations of regional employers that will address the business analytics skills gap. Our Industrial Advisory Board has advised us that important computing skills such as business analytics are in demand and will help graduates secure jobs.”

“The new courses at University of the West of Scotland reinforces a path IBM has been on for some time,” said Gary Kildare, VP Human Resources, IBM. "The IBM Academic Initiative is important in supplying our customers with a pipeline of new skilled graduates that have gained knowledge of IBM technologies by completing our course modules during their final year at university. This makes them more marketable to IBM customers and business partners".

Kildare continued, "Universities are constantly looking for ways of making the students more marketable through the work they do with industry partners. By collaborating with an IBM customer, whilst still at university, students develop a better understanding of the industry and the customer's business. In this way the customer can be confident that if he wishes to employ that particular student, he will be hiring someone who can make a valid contribution and start being productive from day one".

Some of the early analytics projects underway at the university level were inspired by IBM's “Watson” supercomputer – some of the most advanced analytics technology currently available. Through the development of Watson, IBM sparked the interest of many students in the areas of mathematics and computer science. IBM has teamed with universities to work on the sophisticated technology associated with Watson’s deep Question and Answer capabilities, giving more than 10,000 students exposure to analytics technology.

More than 200 educational establishments around the world have developed analytics curriculum and training including the University of Ulster, IAE Aix-en-Provence, EDC business school in France, Yale School of Management in the U.S. and Ottawa University Telfer School of Management.

Through its Academic Initiative, IBM is making its software, courseware and curricula available to 6,000 universities and more than 30,000 faculty at low costs or no-cost, to advance technology skills. More information about IBM’s University Programs and Academic Initiative is available at www.ibm.com/press/university.

For more information on IBM business analytics, please visit www.ibm.com/bao.

For more information on University of the West of Scotland, visit; http://www.uws.ac.uk/

Contact(s) information

Kathy Tyler
UK External Relations
+44 (0)7771 976255
kathleen.tyler@uk.ibm.com

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