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Read IBM's note to staff announcing mandatory training and 10% pay cut

Big Blue says its outsourcing bods aren't up to snuff on buzzword tech

IBM has instituted a new, mandatory training program for some US employees whom management claims don't measure up in the skills department – and participants will be required to give up 10 per cent of their salaries for the privilege.

The program was announced in a memo issued to the affected staffers, all of whom work in the Strategic Outsourcing arm of Big Blue's Global Technology Services division. The letter, a copy of which was seen by The Register, reads:

A recent assessment revealed that some GTS US SO executives, managers and employees have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.

You have been identified as one of these employees.

The missive goes on to explain that from October 16, 2014 through March 31, 2015, all IBM staffers pegged for the program will be required to devote one day a week, or up to 23 days total, on "skills and expertise development."

During that period, their pay will be adjusted to 90 per cent of their base salaries and their retirement plan contributions and stock purchase deductions will be reduced accordingly. The memo says they will be restored to full pay effective April 1, 2015, once they have completed the program.

The required training reportedly encompasses "cloud, analytics, mobile, security, and social," which IBM shortens to CAMMS. But some angry commenters at the trade union website Alliance@IBM see the entire program as nothing more than an underhanded cost-cutting measure and have chosen to rearrange the letters.

"Friday when I was told I was 'not affected' by the SCAMS action, I was also told I would get to pick up my SCAMSed colleagues' work," wrote one commenter, going by the sobriquet Suffering-in-GTS. "And no, I'm not getting their 10% paycut added to my pay. So ALL of the US GTS employees are getting the CAMSS-shaft, one way or the other."

Another commenter claimed to have been flagged for the program despite having devoted much of the year to skills development, saying, "I have received recognition this year for sharing my expertise and offered to be a mentor when asked. So just where are my skills lacking?"

One anonymous source told ComputerWorld on Monday that the program only affected a single-digit percentage of IBM's total workforce. But another Alliance@IBM commenter said that within the Strategic Outsourcing organization, as many as 75 per cent of employees may be affected.

Whatever the total number, employees who have been earmarked for training appear to have few options. IBM's memo suggests that staffers who don't want to participate in the program consider looking elsewhere within IBM for "opportunities for which your skills may be a better match."

And then there's the third option.

"This involves a very small number of people," Trink Guarino, an IBM spokeswoman, ominously told The New York Times, "and we're working to preserve their jobs."

In February, Big Blue said it expected to eliminate as many as 15,000 workers by the end of 2014. ®

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