By Lucy Caulkett-
The British government has announced plans to invest up to £18m investment for artificial intelligence and data science conversion degrees.
Under the plans announced today, an estimated £13.5 million new funding will be injected into extra 2500 artificial intelligence and data science conversion degrees, with 1000 scholarships for people from underrepresented groups . Four different departments of British government, the Department for Digital Culture, media and Sports, The Department Of Education, the Department For Business, Energy, and Investment Strategy and The Office For Artificial Intelligence will boost innovation in adult learning with a £5m government funding to boost gender diversity in the tech sector and harness new technologies to upskill and retrain adults
Applications have been opened for the first ever applied AI growth programme which will benefit start-ups and the technology sector tremendously. The cash injection to drive up skills in AI and data science and support more adults to enhance their skills and retrain to progress in their careers or find new employment. Thousands of people will be granted the opportunity to retrain and become experts in data science and artificial intelligence (AI), thanks to the multi million investment to fund new degree and Masters conversion courses and scholarships at UK academic institutions over the next three years.
£5 million is also being invested to encourage technology companies to develop cutting-edge solutions, utilising AI and automation, to improve the quality of online learning for adults. The ground-breaking Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, which will be launched in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, will provide funding and expertise to incentivise tech firms to harness new technologies to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive, and engaging online training opportunities to support more people into skilled employment.
Companies across the tech sector already contribute £184 billion to the economy every year, due to the expertise of their over 2 million employees. Inward investment to the UK AI sector stood at £1 billion for 2018, which is more than Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland combined.
The investment in data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence, is expected to increase the success of tech businesses and people with the drive and talent to succeed. According to Sue Daley, Associate Director, Tech UK, ”AI technologies, such as chatbots, offer the opportunity for adult learners to access increasingly personalised information, advice and guidance that fits around their everyday normal life. techUK sees AI as a power for good in helping adults to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date”.
Daley believes the technology will help the UK build a world-class data economy that guarantees the future use of data is ethical and benefits business and wider society. The strategy will aim to unlock the power of data across government and the wider economy, while building peoples’ trust in its use
Speaking ahead of his speech at CogX, the Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said:
The UK has a long standing reputation for innovation, world-leading academic institutions and a business friendly environment and everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to build a successful career in our world-leading tech sector.
Through these new AI and Data Conversion courses and our modern Industrial Strategy, we are committed to working with the tech sector and academia to develop and maintain the best AI workforce in the world.
Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured) said:
”UK firms continue to build on our heritage as the home of Artificial Intelligence, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing in that strength to ensure we remain world-leaders in the field and at the very forefront of the latest technologies.
This is an exceptional opportunity for technology firms to work with Government to put their ideas into action to help develop pioneering online training opportunities for adults.
Potential applicants to the AI and Data Conversion courses will hold a degree in other disciplines and scholarships will be made available to support applications from diverse backgrounds. This could include people returning to work after a career break and looking to retrain in a new profession, under-represented groups in the AI and digital workforce, including women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, or lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Education Secretary, Damien Hinds, commented that the creation of a ”more diverse future workforce will help with the design of new technology, including the fair and accurate development of algorithms, and tackle some of the greatest social challenges of our time – from protecting our environment, to transforming the way we live and work, and saving lives through diagnosing diseases earlier”
Experts believe the new initiative will widen the available technological skills. and also increase the diversity of the work force, especially in the tech industry.
The news follows the recently announced multi million skills package which saw the creation of industry-funded AI Masters, prestigious Alan Turing Institute AI research fellowships, and 16 dedicated Centres at universities across the country to train 1000 extra AI PhDs. Confirmation of the new funding comes as Tech Nation opens applications for the first ever Applied AI growth programme. This will give AI startups across the UK the opportunity to benefit from meeting with industry leaders and investors in the sector and meet with their peers to develop impactful technology.
Technologies developed under the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fun will help inform the Government’s National Retraining Scheme. The National Retraining Scheme aims to upskill individuals in the UK most at risk of redundancy with the knowledge they need to progress in work, secure better employment, and redirect their careers.
The new fund builds on the work already underway through the Government’s Education Technology Strategy, published in April, which includes £10 million investment to support innovation and raise the bar in schools, colleges and universities across England.