Up to 2,500 people will benefit from £18.5 million of funding to retrain and become experts in data science and artificial intelligence (AI).
The investment is part of the Government’s ongoing strategy to drive skills within the technology sector, supporting more adults to upskill and retrain to progress in their existing careers or find new employment.
£13.5 million investment will fund new degree and Masters conversion courses and scholarships at UK academic institutions over the next three years.
£5 million is also being invested to encourage technology companies to develop cutting-edge solutions, utilising AI and automation, to improve the quality of online learning for adults.
The Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, which will be launched in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, will provide funding and expertise to incentivise tech firms to harness new technologies to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive, and engaging online training opportunities to support more people into skilled employment.
More than 2.1 million people are currently employed across the tech sector, contributing £184 billion to the economy every year and inward investment to the UK AI sector stood at £1 billion for 2018, which is more than Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland combined.
The Government is also investing in data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence, through the modern Industrial Strategy, so tech businesses and people with the drive and talent can succeed.
“UK firms continue to build on our heritage as the home of Artificial Intelligence, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing in that strength to ensure we remain world-leaders in the field and at the very forefront of the latest technologies,” said Greg Clark, Business secretary.
“These new retraining opportunities and scholarships will ensure people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to move into new and exciting careers, and to shape this innovative industry for years to come.”
Discussing the launch of the new Adult Learning technology Fund, Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, said: “Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies are transforming the way we live and work and have the potential to radically improve online learning and training, so more people can get the skills they need.
“We all have busy lives, juggling work and family commitments so online courses are a great way for more people to retrain or upskill and secure a rewarding career. Investing in cutting edge technologies such as AI will mean we can future proof the online learning experience and ensure it better meets students’ needs.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for technology firms to work with Government to put their ideas into action to help develop pioneering online training opportunities for adults.”
Potential applicants to the AI and Data Conversion courses will hold a degree in other disciplines and scholarships will be made available to support applications from diverse backgrounds. This could include people returning to work after a career break and looking to retrain in a new profession, under-represented groups in the AI and digital workforce, including women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, or lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The news follows the recently announced multimillion skills package which saw the creation of 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.