AI offers huge potential to empower workers, people and communities across Ireland – but only if everyone, everywhere has the skills to use it.
That’s why today, 27th October 2023, we’re proud to be joined by Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary TD to launch our new national AI skilling programme aimed at providing people of all ages, experiences and backgrounds with the opportunity to upskill for an AI future.
The programme is a central part of our plan at Microsoft to ‘Skill Up Ireland’ – helping to ensure that every person and organisation is equipped with the skills and competencies they need to engage more confidently with the current and emerging applications of AI.
With the World Economic Forum estimating that 60% of all employees will need reskilling by 2027, it’s vital that we play our part in helping current and future generations to succeed. Upskilling and reskilling are critical to ensure that the workforce is adequately prepared for these changes and has the adaptability and resilience to benefit from the productivity gains that AI will bring.
At Microsoft, we believe that AI-enabled innovation will generate economic and societal opportunities for communities and economies right across the globe, and here in Ireland we must be ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
In the workplace, AI provides the potential to automate a wide variety of routine tasks and increase productivity across a range of occupations. Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index, published in June 2023, reveals the technology is already having an impact on ways of working, with 1 in 5 (21%) workers already using AI tools in their job, while of those who do not use AI, 67% say they would be interested in doing so.
A lack of skills was identified as the most important obstacle to the adoption of AI, indicating just how critical the development of the right skills and capabilities is to take advantage of the technology.
Our national AI skilling programme will directly address this skills gap by providing opportunities for everyone across Ireland, whatever their age or experience, with the opportunity to develop their AI fluency and skills for an AI future.
The programme includes a range of AI learning opportunities for young people in primary and post-primary education, as well as courses for graduates and mid-career professionals looking to upskill and specialise in AI.
For those with little or no understanding of AI, a bespoke 6-week “Introduction to AI” course has been developed by our education team at Microsoft Ireland.
It will equip anyone over 18 with the foundational knowledge, skills and competencies they need to engage more confidently with the current and emerging applications of AI. Delivered through live virtual sessions, learners who complete the free course will receive a digital badge and can also take an exam where they can earn a Professional Certificate.
‘Skills for Jobs’ is another learning pathway which has been designed specifically to help graduates and those currently in the workplace to advance their digital and AI skills. This initiative offers new courses and provides access to eight Professional Certificates to help people learn the foundational skills and relevant hard and soft skills needed for in-demand tech and tech-enabled jobs.
Within the offering there is a dedicated AI learning pathway where learners can improve their AI fluency and achieve a Professional Certificate in Generative AI. This programme will be delivered in partnership with Fastrack into Information Technology.
Finally, as part of our commitment to the next generation, we have expanded the Microsoft Dream Space digital skills offering for primary and post-primary students.
Every student now engaging with Dream Space will learn about the fundamentals of AI and early next year a new series of Dream Space TV will be made available to almost 1,000,000 students, as well as their teachers, across the island of Ireland with lessons created to ensure AI literacy. Dream Space certificates will be issued to students who complete the lesson series.
Our focus on AI skilling and the new programmes announced today align fully with the Government’s National AI Strategy ‘AI – Here for Good’ which aims to expand access to courses that educate the general public about AI as well as providing AI upskilling and reskilling opportunities for those in the workforce.
Furthermore, by rolling out our new AI learning programmes, we are empowering people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences to gain the analytical, creative thinking and technical skills that are necessary to participate fully in an AI-enabled economy.
Through these efforts and our significant investment in skills more broadly we want to play our part in helping to Skill-Up Ireland for an exciting AI future.
To learn more about Microsoft’s ambition to Skill Up Ireland and the many skills training initiatives we’re providing, visit: aka.ms/SkillUpIreland.