According to the Department of Labor, the majority of jobs in the near future will have a heavy focus on technology and having technical skills, including technical consulting and computer systems design. To ensure college students graduating have those skills, IBM announced today the launch of what it calls a free “academic cloud,” which is a bundle of web-based IBM software to help professors teach technology skills to students.

The announcement will officially come at a New York City get together of over 200 education and industry influencers set to discuss the changing landscape of cloud computing and it’s integration in the education community. If you’re interest, you can see the live stream here at 8:30am Eastern. The hopes for the conference and academic cloud are high. IBM sees users becoming tomorrow’s entrepreneurs using these technology skills in information management and business analytics, digitized patient records, and clean technologies. And of course this is a way for IBM to put its software in front of potential future users at an early stage.

To start, the new academic cloud will be free and accessible to only 20 colleges and universities across the United States. However, additional schools will be added over time, according to a company announcement. The IBM software will allow professors to help teach students in several specific areas of technology, including software development, information management, Web 2.0 and cloud computing. Professors will be able to the software to build IT curriculum, make long distance education more easy as well as free up existing internal infrastructure. More specifically, technology skills will be based on IBM Rational, WebSphere and Information Management software.

The newly announced academic cloud comes just months after IBM announced a simialr Cloud Academy program for educational institutions, a forum for individuals working in the education space to learn about cloud computing to enhance the level of education and reduce operating costs.

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