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AI has the potential to empower people and organisations across the country but it’s critical that everyone, everywhere has the skills to harness its benefits.

Last October, we launched our national AI skilling programme to help give everyone in Ireland the opportunity to upskill and reskill. One of our key ambitions as part of the programme is to bring AI skilling directly to people, communities and businesses in rural Ireland and ensure they are given equal opportunity to engage in AI.

That’s why Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD, joined Microsoft at a Connected Hub in north Mayo as we announced the rollout of the first-ever AI Skill-Up-A-Thons across rural Ireland and AI masterclasses for businesses in the Kerry region.

The AI Skill-Up-A-Thons are designed to help equip those with little or no understanding of AI with the basic knowledge, skills, and competencies in AI. Those who complete the free, 4-hour course will earn an industry recognised Career Essentials Certificate in Generative AI and gain access to LinkedIn Premium to help support those looking to develop a career in AI.

AI Skill-Up-A-Thons are being delivered by our team at Microsoft Ireland in partnership with FIT (Fastrack into Information Technology) and with the support of local authorities and the large network of Connected Hubs throughout the country.

Learners in communities across rural Ireland will be given the opportunity to take part in a series of AI Skill-Up-A-Thons which are taking place in counties including Cavan, Galway, Kilkenny, Mayo, and Tipperary in the coming weeks with other locations to be announced in the coming months.

The first AI Skill-Up-A-Thon was held at the Connected Hub in Knockmore in north Mayo, where Minister Calleary joined learners from the local area as they developed the hard and soft skills necessary to thrive in an AI age and secured their Generative AI certification.

As we embark on the era of AI, it is vital that organisations as well as people are provided with the skills and tools they need to thrive in an era of AI.

That’s why we’re also rolling out a series of AI masterclasses for businesses in Munster focusing on providing business leaders in rural Ireland with the skills and insights to adopt AI within their organisation.

Developed in collaboration with the RDI Hub, the AI masterclasses will be delivered both in-person and online from now until September.

With the World Economic Forum estimating that 60% of all employees will need reskilling by 2027, it is critical that people across Ireland take a lifelong learning approach and can benefit from the productivity gains of new technologies.

This is even more important for people and organisations in rural Ireland. Only 35% of people in rural areas in Ireland have above basic digital skills compared to 47% in our cities.

By providing these AI rural skilling initiatives, as well as our significant investment in skills more broadly, we can help close the digital skills gap that exists between rural and urban communities and play our part in helping to Skill Up Ireland for the era of AI.

 

Skill Up Ireland

Microsoft is on a mission to #SkillUpIreland by providing every person in Ireland with the opportunity to skill up for an AI future.

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