Youngstown State University and tech giant IBM announced a partnership Wednesday afternoon to launch the new IT Workforce Accelerator Program.

The program aims to prepare students and the local workforce for high tech jobs of the future.

The program will provide pre-apprenticeship training and apprenticeship program enablement so that local companies can train area workers in fields ranging from software engineering and data science to analytics, cyber security and mainframe systems administration.

"We believe the program will be an extraordinary help to our region and a great opportunity for people who want to move in a new and exciting direction. It will also help close the skills gap that we have in our nation in the IT sector," YSU President Jim Tressell said.

The program is intended to make more area candidates apprenticeship-ready and accelerate their progress to promising careers.

Apprenticeship opportunities will be available for students in degree and non-degree education tracks.

IT Workforce Accelerator will bring together local employers, workforce intermediaries and other partners interested in implementing and supporting apprenticeship programs and job opportunities.

IBM representatives said emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, data science and security is rapidly growing and expected to create more than 130 million new jobs by 2022.

To fill these emerging jobs close to 12 million workers in the U.S. may need to be retrained because of AI and intelligent automation in the next three years.

"Skills are the new currency, and we need to fully equip our current and future workforce with the right skills to participate in the digital economy," Apprenticeship Program Manager Jennifer Oddo said. 

For more information on the Youngstown State University IT Workforce Accelerator, visit https://ysu.edu/workforce-accelerator.