The IT skills shortage is a well-known problem, and one that is only set to grow as more emerging technologies enjoy enterprise adoption. IDC predicts that, within the next three years, “the talent pool for emerging technologies will be inadequate to fill at least 30% of global demand and effective skills development and retention will become differentiating strategies.”

To that end, many organizations are partnering with colleges and universities throughout the country to “prime their tech pipelines,” as Clint Boulton put it in a recent CIO.com article. This isn’t a new concept—GlaxoSmithKline is one of the companies profiled in the CIO piece with a long-established scholastic partnership program in place.

But what is new, according to Boulton’s article, is the rate at which companies and higher ed institutions are partnering, as well as their laser focus on digital skills. GSK’s approach, and that of similar programs, has traditionally been to give students broad exposure to a variety of business functions and departments. The aim, of course, is that students will graduate from the program with a deep understanding of GSK’s business model and methods of operating and be primed for success out of the gate as entry-level employees.

Recruiting top talent before it’s officially on the market is certainly a goal of newer university partnerships, as well. But by focusing specifically on artificial intelligence (AI), data science, design thinking, machine learning, and related disciplines, these companies are looking to get a leg up on the competition and establish a deep bench of talent in these essential technologies.

The organizations Boulton spoke with span a range of sectors (financial services, grocery, construction), underscoring that the need for advanced tech talent is industry agnostic. Case in point, Jit Kee Chin, chief data officer at Boston-based building contractor Suffolk, believes that her company’s collaboration with Northeastern University “could lead to the development of new analytics technologies.”

Given the speed with which technological advancements happen, it’s always going to be a struggle for organizations to keep up with the corresponding talent needs. But companies that anticipate and actively seek ways to tap into the digital mindset and skills of younger generations stand a much better chance of prevailing.