Employee education has been a staple at IBM since 1916. According to company lore, that’s when IBM’s founder, Thomas Watson Sr., funded the firm’s first training class — even though he needed bank loans to cover payroll.
Nearly 100 years later, IBM’s commitment to employee development is as strong, or stronger. “Our stock in trade [is] our knowledgeable employees,” said Frank Persico, vice president of workforce learning at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, whose employees log nearly 30 million hours of education per year. “When you think about what it is we have to sell, it’s the knowledge and innovation that goes in the head of our employees.”
Such is the case at most businesses. But IBM, which puts more than $574 million annually into employee education, isn’t immune to the technologies currently disrupting the workforce.