The UK tech space is set to take benefit from a cash injection to boost skills in AI and data science, as the government has announced an investment of up to £18.5 million to bolster diversity in the roles of artificial intelligence and data science.
The extensive strategy behind this investment is to upskill the UK workforce and position the country as a leader in the use of technology. With £13.5 million of the total funding, up to 25,000 people will have the opportunity to retain and become professional in AI and data science courses who have degrees in other disciplines in addition to 1,000 scholarships at UK academic institutions over the next three years.
The Program Overview
The program is designed to support applications from professionals, along with under-represented groups in the digital workforce, including women and those from minority ethnic or lower socioeconomic backgrounds, returning from a career break and looking to retain. Moreover, around £5 million will also be invested in the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund to foster tech companies to build cutting-edge solutions, leveraging AI and automation to advance the online learning quality for adults.
To be introduced in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, this revolutionary innovation fund for adults will provide funding and expertise to tech firms to harness the capabilities of AI and automation to develop tailored, optimized, flexible, comprehensive, and engaging online training opportunities. This will support in improving online learning platforms intended to assist adults to retain.
According to a report, companies across the tech space already deployed over 2.1 million people that contribute £184 billion to the economy every year. Last year, the inward investment to the AI sector in the UK stood at £1 billion, which is more than Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland combined. Government is further investing in data-driven technologies to further bolster the AI sector in the country, including artificial intelligence, through the state-of-the-art Industrial Strategy, where tech businesses and people with tech skills can succeed.
Experts at CogX Event, London
Speaking at the CogX event in London, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright says, “The UK has a long-standing reputation for innovation, world-leading academic institutions, and a business-friendly environment. Everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to build a successful career in our world-leading tech sector.”
He further added that “Through these 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.”
Ahead of this plan announcement, AI skills champion and professor at the University of Southampton, Wendy Hall emphasized that diversity will help with the design and development of AI technology, with saying the topic is getting a lot of attention within the government’s AI strategy.
“We’ve got a talent pipeline that is not diverse in gender – and that is so important, especially given the bias issues. We are all biased anyway, but if you have a [limited] subset of society building the algorithms, that is not good for society – and we absolutely have to make that part of the ethical framework for AI,” Wendy added.
On the launch of the new Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, Education Secretary Damian Hinds comments, “Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies are transforming the way we live and work and have the potential to radically improve online learning and training, so more people can get the skills they need.”
To support the UK build a world-class data economy, Government has introduced a consultation that will assist in forming the National Data Strategy to ensure the future use of data is ethical and benefits businesses and the wider community. The approach will aim to crack the power of data across government and the wider economy while creating peoples’ trust in its practice.
According to a study by Oxford Insights, in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, the UK is one of the best placed in the world to take advantage of AI for public service delivery.