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An estimated 2,500 people are to develop new digital skills through government funding for new AI and data science conversion courses.
£13.5 million funding will be shared among 18 universities in England to help more people find employment in the fast-growing AI and data science sectors, allowing graduates from a range of backgrounds to retrain and pursue Masters degrees in these fields.
Courses are open to anyone who meets a participating university’s entry requirements, with 1,000 scholarships being made available specifically to target the female, black and disabled demographics which are underrepresented in the tech sector.
The announcement is part of the government’s commitment to increase R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“It is vital we increase diversity across our tech sector and give everyone with the aptitude and talent the opportunity to build a successful career.
“This will help make sure artificial intelligence developed in the UK reflects the needs and make-up of society as a whole which will also help mitigate the risk of biased technologies being developed.
“Through these new AI and data science conversion courses we are working with industry and academia to develop and maintain the best AI workforce in the world.”
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
“From disease diagnosis to driverless vehicles, demand for a diverse new pipeline of talent in the AI and digital workforce has never been greater.
“By working with our leading universities and industry partners, I am delighted that we are providing students from all backgrounds the chance to upskill and help tackle some of the most complex challenges of our time.”
In addition to these new conversion courses, the Government is also supporting industry-funded AI Masters, prestigious Alan Turing Institute AI research fellowships and 16 dedicated Centres at universities across the country to train 1000 extra AI PhDs.