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For First Time, IBM To Require Transcripts From Applicants

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Applicants seeking entry-level work with IBM's manufacturing and development facilities this summer will need more than a high school diploma to get the job.

For the first time, the company is requesting school transcripts from all applicants who have taken high school coursework within the past five years.

"It is a way to validate what was in an application," Melinda McMullen, a spokeswoman for the International Business Machines Corp., based in Armonk, N.Y., said last week. "It also lets applicants know their high school experience really does matter."

IBM's new hiring policy comes a year after educators at the national education summit in Palisades, N.Y., asked business leaders to reinforce the message that high school academic performance is important when seeking a job. IBM and other major corporations co-sponsored the summit with the National Governors' Association.

A number of other companies have been moving to make school records part of the hiring process. ("Firms Moving To Use School Data in Hiring," June 19, 1996.)

A Welcome Step

The IBM policy will become part of the application process at all of the company's manufacturing facilities, which are in six states: California, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont. Approximately 10 percent of the company's 125,000 employees are in manufacturing.

State schools Superintendent Michael E. Ward of North Carolina said he expects the initiative to be significant. IBM's site in Research Triangle Park, N.C., is the company's largest manufacturing and development facility, with more than 13,000 employees.

"It will help our young people see how important their own school performance is in the workplace," Mr. Ward said in a prepared statement released last week. "It may encourage other companies to adopt similar policies."

"We are pleased with the direction IBM is taking," said William R. McNeal, the associate superintendent for instruction with Wake County, N.C.'s 89,000-student system in the Triangle area. "It sends the message to students that someone is looking at the courses they take. It's not that you made an A, but what did you make that A in."

In March, IBM's plant in Essex Junction, Vt., became the first to implement the new policy. The process is going smoothly, according to Jeff Couture, the spokesman for the Vermont facility.

Those applying for entry-level positions range from high school graduates to those with four-year degrees, Mr. Couture said.

The new application process "will probably be beneficial to those applicants who have little experience--they can stand out by indicating their various skills and coursework," he said.

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