CTV Ottawa has learned IBM is the latest tech firm to lay off staff.

A spokesperson at IBM's global headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. told CTV Ottawa that company-wide layoffs started a couple of days ago and are needed to reduce costs and make the company more competitive.

Doug Shelton refused to say how many people are being let go, but did say most of the cuts will take place in Canada and the U.S. He said the layoffs don't target any specific areas and will affect all operations.

He added that IBM constantly reviews their mix of skills and resources, which is part of their competitive success, "especially in a weak economic period."

Shelton said some of those who are let go will have the chance to apply for jobs elsewhere in the company.

IBM released its fourth quarter earnings this week, showing a rise in profits of 12 per cent. The company stock shot up and the firm predicted an increase in revenues for 2009.

The company also gave credit to its software division, including the former Cognos and two other Ottawa operations, which saw revenues rise 3 per cent to over $6 billion.

IBM employed more than 400,000 people at the end of 2008, the first time in more than 20 years the company's workforce has swelled that big. The company, which recently bought up Cognos, currently employs well over 2,000 workers in the capital region.

The last time IBM employed a workforce that size, a severe downturn caused the company to jettison many of those workers in waves of brutal downsizing.

IBM shed more than 150,000 workers in the 1990s as the company racked up nearly $16 billion in losses over a five-year stretch.

For all of 2008, IBM earned $12.3 billion, or $8.93 per share. That represents an 18 per cent jump from a year ago. Sales were $103.6 billion, a 5 per cent increase.

With files from The Associated Press