IBM to Unveil Employee Training Accounts

July 25, 2007 ( - IBM will begin offering "learning accounts" to its employees as a way to encourage education and training and to attract new talent, the New York Times reported.

According to the news report, the company is slated to reveal the plan on Wednesday at a conference in Washington , D.C.

Workers will put up to $1,000 a year into the accounts and IBM will contribute $0.50 for every dollar put in by the employee. The account gives the employee discretion over how to spend the money and allows the employee to take the money when he or she leaves, according to the news report.

IBM’s learning accounts will initially be available in 2008 to U.S. workers who have been with the company for at least five years.

Before the accounts go into effect, there are some tax hurdles that must be dealt with. Workers can count the cost of education and training in their own occupation as tax deductible, as defined by government job classifications, but not when they are training for new careers.

As they now stand, the “learning accounts” will use after-tax dollars. According to the Times, IBM has already earmarked $40 million over the three years for contributions to the learning accounts, which is in addition to its $600 million training budget.

Additional information about the program can be found online at

Editor’s Note: Later on Wednesday, IBM put out the following press release on the program:

IBM Announces ”Global Citizen’s Portfolio” to Enable 21st Century Skills and Leaders

class=” bwtextaligncenter”> Corporate Service Corps, Matching Accounts for Learning Among First-of-a-Kind Initiatives

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the creation of the Global Citizen's Portfolio, a suite of investments and programs to help IBM employees enhance their skills and expertise, in order to become global leaders, professionals and citizens.

"The reality of global competition and the forces of innovation are shifting the frontiers of science, business and technology at a rate we ' ve never seen before - which is why expertise is not static," said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. "To be competitive, any individual - like any company, community or country - has to adapt continuously, learning new fields and new skills. This package of capabilities enhances the ability of IBMers to acquire new skills and capabilities."

IBM will commit to spend up to $60 million in the next three years on creating the Global Citizen's Portfolio for its employees. The Portfolio builds on IBM ' s extensive programs to support IBMers in their careers and skills training.

The initial components of the Portfolio include:

  • Matching Accounts for Learning: At launch, IBM will match 50 percent of contributions by employees with at least five years of service. The employee contribution, up to $1000 per year, will reside in an interest-bearing account. This program will be piloted in the United States and expanded globally, based on local skills, training needs and government support for education.

"The individual is in the best position to understand what kinds of skills he or she wants and needs in the new economy," said Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of human resources for IBM. "IBM believes it is the role of a responsible global organization to help our employees be competitive and to help them meet their professional goals. "

  • The Corporate Service Corps- diverse cultures, policy environments and societal expectations. IBM will team with non-governmental organizations to place small groups of employees from different countries and business units together, outside of the office structure. They will build relationships and work on some of the world ' s toughest problems, such as enhancing global economic opportunity and access to education resources. The Corporate Service Corps will be global from the outset: Approximately 600 IBM participants over the first three years will be drawn from all over the world. Project destinations will be in emerging and developing countries.
  • Enhanced Transition Services: This will create bridges for IBM employees to opportunities in government, non-profits, educational institutions and economic development organizations. Building on the success of IBM ' s Transition to Teaching initiative, this new program will create public/private and civil/private partnerships. It will identify which skills are needed in high-demand areas, and then help IBM employees develop second careers in these fields, to contribute to their communities.

"In today ' s global economy, people make constant transitions from job to job, or into retirement. They still value the connections they've made, and they can still contribute to their society, as well as to their former employer, " said Stanley Litow, vice president of corporate affairs and corporate citizenship. "Our new program has a triple benefit: Individuals get to develop leadership skills; IBM and its partners benefit from those skills; and the community benefits, as well."

Mr. Palmisano made the announcement of the Global Citizenship Portfolio this afternoon in a speech at T he Forum on Global Leadership: U.S. Competitiveness in a Globally Integrated Economy, a two-day conference at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

The conference -- sponsored by IBM with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics -- convened several hundred business, academic, government and community leaders to exchange ideas and discuss innovative ways to spur competitiveness in a globally interconnected world.

"IBM sees the potential for a powerful ' virtuous circle '- with mutually reinforcing benefits among empowered individuals, more agile and innovative companies, healthier and more vibrant communities and a more competitive nation, " said Mr. Palmisano. " We fully expect that the Global Citizen ' s Portfolio will make IBM a more competitive and successful business. This will require investment. But as much as any company in the world, IBM depends on having the best expertise and talent. We believe that innovation - not only in our products and services, but also in how we run the company and in our relationships with employees, communities and civil society at large - will help us attract the smartest and most creative workforce. "