Microsoft’s mission to ‘Skill Up Ireland’

On October 27th, our CWiT member company Microsoft launched an ambitious, national Artificial Intelligence (AI) skilling programme. The programme is the central part of Microsoft’s plan to ‘Skill Up Ireland’ which it hopes will ensure that every person and organisation is ready and equipped for an AI future.

According to Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index, published in June 2023, AI is expected to create a whole new way of working. 4 in 10 (42%) survey respondents said they spend too much time searching for the right data. 1 in 5 (21%) workers reported using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools in their job, while of those who do not use AI (67%), almost 1 in 4 say they would be interested in doing so. The same report identified skills availability as the most important obstacle to the adoption of AI.

All trends indicate that AI is becoming more prolific in the workplace, yet employees don’t feel ready to take advantage of the technology. To address this challenge, Microsoft has designed a National AI skilling programme rooted in providing people of all ages, experiences and ambitions 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.

At CWiT, we are committed to attracting and retaining women in technology and being upskilled and reskilled in the AI era in which we now found ourselves is of increasing importance. We need to ensure that young girls and women are confident and competent to contribute to this new technological age. A focus on AI skilling and the programming that Microsoft has announced 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.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary TD, said: “The use and deployment of AI can bring with it huge benefits and efficiencies for society and the economy, but if we are to seize those opportunities, we must be prepared for them and a key part of that is education and upskilling. This Government recognises how critical it is for government, industry and the education sector to work closely together to rapidly expand access to digital and AI skills.    

“I commend Microsoft for playing their part in ensuring that we are building public awareness and informed decision making in order to use AI for our collective good. In particular, the bespoke “Introduction to AI” course is a very welcome contribution to wider digital literacy and digital skills efforts. By encouraging a lifelong learning approach to AI skilling, we can realise the ambition of our National AI Strategy and work towards achieving our goal of 75% of businesses using AI by 2030.”

We encourage our CWiT members, and the general public to learn more about Microsoft’s ambition to Skill Up Ireland and the many skills training initiatives they’re providing, including the new national AI skilling programme. You can read more at: aka.ms/SkillUpIreland.

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