IBM unveils plan to hire 25,000 in US on eve of Trump meeting with tech leaders

IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty is a member of US President-elect Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of US business leaders focused on boosting economic growth and jobs.
IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty is a member of US President-elect Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of US business leaders focused on boosting economic growth and jobs.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - US technology giant IBM said on Tuesday (Dec 13) it would hire 25,000 people in the country over the next four years, a day before President-elect Donald Trump meets tech industry leaders.

About 6,000 of those hirings will occur in 2017, IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty said in an opinion article published in the newspaper USA Today.

IBM, which has undertaken in recent years a restructuring of its activities, will invest US$1 billion (S$1.42 billion) on employee training and development in the next four years, said the IBM president, chairman and CEO.

"We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving - and that is also why so many of these jobs remain hard to fill," Ms Rometty said, noting that many industries were being reshaped by data science and cloud computing.

"Jobs are being created that demand new skills - which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting," she said.

"This is not about white collar vs blue collar jobs, but about the 'new collar' jobs that employers in many industries demand, but which remain largely unfilled."

Ms Rometty is a member of Mr Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of US business leaders focused on boosting economic growth and jobs.

The IBM jobs investment news came before the highly anticipated meeting on Wednesday of the Republican property tycoon-turned-next US president and the leaders of several major technology companies.

Among those expected to attend are Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Mr Larry Page of Alphabet (Google) and Mr Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, according to US media.

Mr Trump is expected to push them to create jobs after saying last week that he would like Apple - whose coveted iPhones are made in China - to open a large factory in the United States.

But he will be stepping into hostile territory. The tech sector overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during this year's election campaign and has expressed fear about the effect Mr Trump's policies will have on the industry.

The sole notable exception is the controversial PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel, currently a member of Mr Trump's transition team.