IBM is taking matters into its own corporate hands to help address a shortage of math and science teachers in the United States.

Big Blue said Friday that it was launching a “Transition to Teaching” program through which IBM workers who want to leave the firm and become teachers will receive incentives to do so.

A pilot program will be launched in North Carolina, New York and other places where IBM has a significant presence. As many as 100 workers will be accepted for the program’s launch.

“Each employee will be able to participate in both online course work and more traditional courses, participate in online mentoring while remaining at the company, as well as student teach for up to three months in order to meet state certification requirements and prepare them with quality experiences,” IBM said in a statement.

Those who participate will be eligible to receive up to $15,000 for tuition and stipends.

Program Augments Universities Initiative

IBM already is working with several North Carolina universities as well as the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to help train more technology workers.

IBM launched its university program two years ago in an attempt to address several trends, including a drop of 29 percent in the number of engineering graduates from US universities as well as growing demand for IT workers, which is estimated to reach 1.5 million by 2007

A major driver was the findings of a survey its Business Consulting Services group conducted among 450 chief executive officers around the world. Seventy-five percent of them said education and lack of qualified candidates are the problems that “will have the greatest impact on their business over the next three years”.

Teachers Needed, Too

Citing government figures that show jobs requiring science, engineering and technical training will increase by more than half through 2008, IBM said it believes its own workforce can help fill an expected need of 260,000 additional math and science teachers by the 2008-2009 school year.

“Many of our experienced employees have math and science backgrounds and have made it clear that when they are ready to leave IBM they aren’t ready to stop contributing,” said Stanley Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation and vice president of IBM Corporate Community Relations. “They want to continue working in positions that offer them the opportunity to give back to society in an extremely meaningful way. Transferring their skills from IBM to the classroom is a natural for many – especially in the areas of math and science.”

IBM has invested $75 million worldwide since it launched a “Reinventing Education” program in 1994.

Requirements for IBM workers to participate include: management approval; 10 years or more service with IBM; a bachelor’s degree in math or science or a higher degree in a related field; and some teaching, tutoring or volunteer experience in a school or children’s program

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