IBM has teamed with more than 1,000 universities worldwide with the intent of building a future "pipeline" of data scientists.
The IBM Academic Initiative has a number of different elements ranging from access to IBM's big data and analytics software to specialized coursework and tracks to trotting in data scientists to guest lecture at these universities.
Some of the centers of higher learning already implementing new curricula based on the Academic Initiative include Georgetown University, Northwestern University, and the National University of Singapore.
For example, at the University of Missouri, the College of Engineering’s computer science department will be offering a new undergraduate course this fall.
Simply dubbed, "Big Data Analytics," the class is based upon IBM's InfoSphere BigInsights and InfoSphere Streams software to teach students about processing data in a number of different scenarios (i.e. in motion vs. at rest, structured or unstructured, etc.) and how these each play into making more informed business decisions.
Big Blue asserted that with this initiative, it is paving the way for more "data-driven" jobs and professions, such as a "chief data officer," which are likely to be needed as big data continues to play a bigger role in business across all verticals.
The Academic Initiative also plays into the debate as to whether or not there is a skills gap in the United States (not to mention worldwide) for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs.
IBM appears to agree to some extent, acknowledging in the announcement that it is aiming to "narrow this gap" through the academic partnerships.
Additionally, IBM cited a figure from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with data analytics skills over the next eight years.
Thus, the need for finding and educating specialized talent is here.