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IBM lays out plans to hire 25,000 in US ahead of Trump meeting

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 15:55

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IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty said she plans to hire about 25,000 people in the US and invest US$1 billion over the next four years, laying out her vision for filling technology jobs in America on the eve of a meeting of industry leaders with President-elect Donald Trump.

[NEW YORK] IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty said she plans to hire about 25,000 people in the US and invest US$1 billion over the next four years, laying out her vision for filling technology jobs in America on the eve of a meeting of industry leaders with President-elect Donald Trump.

Ms Rometty, who is on Trump's advisory panel of business leaders, will join Facebook Inc's Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon.com Inc's Jeff Bezos and Alphabet Inc's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt at a summit with Trump on Wednesday in New York that is said to focus on jobs.

During the run-up to the election, Mr Trump made employment issues a mainstay of his campaign, promising to scrap trade deals he viewed as draining jobs from the country and impose tariffs on imports if necessary. He has since claimed credit for preventing thousands of manufacturing jobs from moving overseas and used state incentives to strike a deal with Carrier, a unit of United Technologies Corp, to pull back on its plans to move some operations to Mexico.

Ms Rometty is continuing what is emerging as a formula among technology companies: in conjunction with meetings with Trump in his Manhattan tower, pledge to create jobs and invest billions of dollars in the US, even if the plans had already been in the works since before he was elected. The advantage for companies is that it can deflect criticism from the new administration that the industry is shifting jobs offshore, while also giving Mr Trump a way to take credit for job creation goals that may have little to do with his election.

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IBM said in March it had more than 25,000 positions open globally and that it had started to cut some jobs in the US as part of a "workforce rebalancing" in an effort to add staff with cloud and other specific skills.

Over the past few years, IBM - like many large US-based companies - has been criticized for eliminating thousands of jobs in the country and moving resources to places such as India. The company reported fewer employees at the end of 2013 than the beginning of the year for the first time in a decade, and reduced its total workforce by 12 per cent the next year. IBM said it hired more US employees last year than it had in the five years prior.

In an op-ed piece in USA Today, Ms Rometty said many technology jobs don't require an advanced degree and she encouraged government investment in vocational education and training.

"We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving," Ms Rometty wrote. That's also why many of the jobs are hard to fill, she said. "What matters most is that these employees - with jobs such as cloud computing technicians and services delivery specialists - have relevant skills, often obtained through vocational training."

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