University of the Cumberlands today announced that it is working with IBM to equip faculty and students with no-cost STEM education and career readiness resources. To that end, Cumberlands is providing enhanced access to IBM SkillsBuild, a no-cost education program focused on underrepresented communities that helps develop valuable new skills and equitable access to career opportunities in technology fields.

In just nine months last year, Cumberlands students earned more than 110 IBM digital badges for successfully completing IBM SkillsBuild coursework, preparing them for careers that involve information technology (IT) and business disciplines, such as enterprise data science, DevOps for enterprise business agility, building cloud-based mobile solutions for enterprises, and more.

Computer science faculty members incorporate elements of IBM SkillsBuild instruction within their own classes and recommend that students supplement that instruction by completing free online IBM SkillsBuild coursework, which yield digital badges upon their successful completion. These can be listed on students’ resumes, making them more marketable for the IT workforce.

Within Cumberlands’ internal databases, students can track their earned IBM SkillsBuild digital badges. Cumberlands’ badge listings are linked to real-time, dynamic labor market data and actual local job postings that relate to the course topic, making the digital badges not only a record of achievement, but also a practical tool for career development.

“We are honored to join the effort with IBM and provide our students with new digital tools and techniques," said Zadok Hakim, PhD – Program Director of the master’s degree programs in data science, cyber-engineering, and information science. “The collaboration between IBM and Cumberlands will further augment our students’ know-how in the new emergent technologies and skills needed to be competitive and keep pace with the changes in the ever-changing digital environment.”

In the first year of collaboration between IBM and the university, nine Cumberlands professors participated in the IBM academic program, and 110 students earned IBM digital badges.

This collaboration comes as IBM unveiled the results of a global skills survey conducted with Morning Consult. The study revealed widespread misconceptions about skills and careers in technology and highlighted accessible pathways for students and job seekers to pursue a future in technology.

“We’re excited to collaborate with University of the Cumberlands to work toward making technology learning more accessible to everyone,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Chief Impact Officer. “Through our work with partners, we provide enhanced, free access to tech learning and workplace skills via IBM SkillsBuild. Together, we’re committed to investing in the future of tech talent across industries.”

IBM and University of the Cumberlands’ collaboration is part of IBM's commitment to equipping 30 million people globally with new skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow by 2030. IBM is investing in both the future of work with a holistic, end-to-end ecosystem approach that fosters access to education and training while creating a more diverse pipeline of applicants.

IBM SkillsBuild

IBM SkillsBuild is a free education program focused on underrepresented communities in tech that helps high school and university students and faculty, as well as adult learners, develop valuable new skills and access career opportunities. The program includes an online platform that is complemented by customized practical learning experiences delivered in collaboration with a global network of partners.

The open version of IBM SkillsBuild is an online platform that offers over 1,000 courses in 19 languages on cybersecurity, data analysis, cloud computing, and many other technical disciplines — as well as in workplace skills such as design thinking. Most important, participants can earn IBM-branded digital credentials that are recognized by the market.

The enhanced partner version of IBM SkillsBuild, such as with schools like University of the Cumberlands, may also include workshops, expert conversations with IBM coaches and mentors, project-based learning, access to IBM software, specialized support from partners through the learning process, and connection to career opportunities. 

IBM SkillsBuild at the University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands offers major and minor degree opportunities in information technology (IT) as well as graduate degrees in several IT-related fields. For example, the university has been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) by the National Security Association (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only two other universities in Kentucky have earned this qualification.* Cybersecurity is just one of a variety of IT disciplines addressed by IBM SkillsBuild coursework, complementing the school’s own curricula.

IBM SkillsBuild Academy is available to both graduate and undergraduate students at Cumberlands. To learn more about University of the Cumberlands’ IT programs, visit