This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.
Written by Kate Behnchen, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
AI offers tremendous potential to empower workers around the world – but only if everyone, everywhere has the skills to use it. It's little surprise that, according to the World Economic Forum, AI skills represent the third-highest priority for companies’ training strategies, right alongside analytical and creative thinking.
To begin addressing this need, today we are launching a new AI Skills Initiative to help people and communities around the world learn how to harness the power of AI. The Microsoft AI Skills Initiative includes new, free coursework developed with LinkedIn, including the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI in the online learning market; a new open global grant challenge in coordination with data.org to uncover new ways of training workers on generative AI; and greater access to free digital learning events and resources for everyone to improve their AI fluency.
As noted in Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index, AI is uniquely poised to create a whole new way of working just as the pace of information work is outpacing our ability to keep up. A whopping 62% of survey respondents said they struggle with too much time spent searching for information in their workday. And while 49% of people say they’re worried AI will replace their jobs, even more—70%—would delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads. To that end, our new AI Skills Initiative aims to help workers around the world stay ahead of emerging skills gaps and take advantage of these new technologies.
Revolutionizing skills training – the Generative AI Skills Grant Challenge
While much focus has been on the potential for AI to drive efficiency and unleash human creativity, AI also represents a sea change for how people can learn. We know the demand for skills training -- whether in the cybersecurity field or baseline digital skills– is massive and continues to grow. We’ll need to revolutionize how we train people, and we believe that AI skills can help. We’re just starting to explore the possibilities. And that’s incredibly exciting – and daunting.
That’s why, alongside data.org, Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab, and GitHub, we’re launching the Generative AI Skills Grant Challenge, an open grant program to explore, develop, and implement how nonprofit, social enterprise, and research or academic institutions can train and empower the workforce to use generative AI. This global grant will support organizations driving skilling and economic growth, especially those focusing on fair and community-led implementations of generative AI with historically marginalized populations around the world. In addition to financial support, the awardees will receive access to a cohort experience, Microsoft events, Azure-based cloud computing resources as well as data training and technical guidance from Microsoft and GitHub experts.
We strongly encourage nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and academic or research institutions dedicated to upskilling opportunities in generative AI to apply. The grant is now accepting applications, with a deadline for initial proposals on August 15, 2023, and we’ll announce the winners this Fall. To learn more about the new grant visit data.org/challenge.
New, free skilling content
As part of our Skills for Jobs program, we're partnering with LinkedIn Learning to launch the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI in the online learning market. Through this new coursework, workers will learn introductory concepts of AI, including a look at responsible AI frameworks, and receive a Career Essentials certificate when they pass the assessment. This Professional Certificate on Generative AI is currently available in English and will launch in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese over the coming months on LinkedIn Learning. As with the six other Career Essentials Professional Certificates offered with our Skills for Jobs program, this coursework will be unlocked and available for free through 2025
We’ll also launch a trainer toolkit for teachers, trainers, and facilitators who, as we know from the past five years of our skilling work, are critical in providing skilling resources and training to local communities. The toolkit will include downloadable, bite-sized content for trainers, including a new AI course built for educators by Microsoft Education and content on the practical uses of AI. Additionally, we are releasing the Microsoft Learn AI Skills Challenge, a free technical training challenge to learn essential AI skills with Microsoft products and services, beginning on July 17th – sign up HERE.
Through our Skills for Jobs program, Microsoft has been working to bring digital skills to people around the world and ensure they’re not left behind in the digital economy. We’ve reached millions, helped people find new careers, and focused on the cybersecurity field and new, in-demand jobs in the digital economy. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished. This new effort is the next step in that campaign, marking a new beginning that will build on a new wave of technology innovation to come. We’re already seeing energy and excitement about AI’s potential and, more than anything, a tremendous appetite to learn more. Over the coming months we’ll be announcing new dimensions to this effort, with new partners, new goals, and new ideas. And, as always, we’ll share our lessons learned as the program evolves.
As Microsoft’s President and Vice Chair Brad Smith recently said, “AI offers perhaps even more potential for the good of humanity than any invention that has preceded it.” But to live up to this potential, people need the skills to use AI effectively and ethically.
This is only the first step, with more to come and more to learn. And we’re excited to help.