Microsoft announced on Friday a groundbreaking new initiative as part of its Skills for Jobs program. The “AI Skills Initiative” aims to empower individuals and communities worldwide by helping them harness the power of artificial intelligence and bridge the talent gap in the rapidly evolving field.
According to the latest findings from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, AI is reshaping the way we work. As the pace of information work continues to outstrip our capacity to keep up, AI emerges as a crucial tool to tackle the challenges faced by today’s workers. In the context of India, the index reveals that a staggering 76% of workers in the country grapple with insufficient time and energy to accomplish their tasks.
According to a recent Nasscom report, India currently possesses the second-largest AI talent pool globally and ranks first in terms of AI skill penetration and concentration. However, despite these achievements, the report highlighted a significant gap of 51% between the demand and supply of AI/ML big data analytics tech talent in India, emphasizing the need for further investment and skill development.
Microsoft’s new AI Skills Initiative is designed to address these emerging skills gaps and alleviate what is commonly referred to as digital debt – a combination of overwhelming data, information, and constant communication. By leveraging partnerships and collaborations, the initiative seeks to help organizations train and upskill the workforce for AI jobs.
In collaboration with data.org, Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab, and GitHub, Microsoft is launching an open grant program that will explore, develop, and implement innovative ways for nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, research institutions, and academic establishments to train and empower the workforce in generative AI. The global grant aims to support organizations driving skilling and economic growth, with a particular focus on historically marginalized populations worldwide. The grant recipients will receive financial support, access to a cohort experience, Microsoft events, Azure-based cloud computing resources, and technical guidance from Microsoft and GitHub experts. More information about the grant challenge can be found at data.org/challenge.
Additionally, Microsoft and LinkedIn have introduced a new learning pathway that offers free introductory generative AI learning content. This coursework will equip workers with a foundational knowledge of AI, including responsible AI frameworks. Upon completion, learners will receive a Career Essentials certificate – the first professional certificate on Generative AI available on the online learning market.
The AI Skills Initiative is the latest addition to Microsoft’s Skills for Jobs program, which aims to bridge various skills gaps. Previous efforts have focused on closing the cybersecurity skills gap and the sustainability skills gap.
“AI has tremendous potential to empower workers, however, we need to ensure that everyone has the skills to use it. The new AI Skills Initiative marks a new beginning that will build on a new wave of technology innovation to come,” said Gunjan Patel, director and head – Philanthropies, Microsoft India.