19 Oct 2023

Getting ready for the AI economy: Microsoft plans to train 1 million people

Microsoft is expanding its UK skilling program, Get On, aiming to equip 1 million people with the skills needed to thrive in the AI-enabled economy.

We’re entering an era of unprecedented technological transformation – but over half of British business leaders surveyed (52%) believe the UK is racing against time to become an artificial intelligence (AI) superpower.

With rapid advancements in AI, including the arrival of large language models (LLM), the way people work and broader business models are changing. But new research, conducted by YouGov for Microsoft, reveals that 54% of business leaders surveyed are concerned their workforce lacks the skills to make the most of the AI opportunity.

When it comes to future-proofing business, only a quarter (25%) of business leaders surveyed have plans in place to recruit the right talent to successfully implement AI across their organisations. Meanwhile just 26% have completed training to improve their understanding about how to use AI in their job.

To address these challenges, Microsoft is expanding its UK skilling program, Get On, aiming to equip 1 million people with the skills needed to thrive in the AI-enabled economy.

Expanding Microsoft’s skills commitment

Speaking at Microsoft’s Envision UK event, Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, said: “The UK has a very real opportunity to be a leader in the era of AI, but as our research shows, there are barriers stopping the UK turning its ambition into action.”

“Every job will soon be supported by AI and we need innovative people, with the right skills, to fill those jobs. That’s why Microsoft is expanding its skills commitment. By 2025 we will support one million people to gain the AI skills they need to start, or move into, a career in technology. And in doing so, we will open up the opportunities of AI to diverse talent across the UK.”

Turning ambition into action

The expansion of the Get On programme builds on Microsoft’s five-year initiative. To date it has trained 1.1 million people in digital skills and helped over 30,000 people build careers in tech. Microsoft’s new suite of AI skilling resources are designed to harness the generative AI wave sweeping across industries.

With 45% of job seekers expressing interest in AI, the programme will help candidates, non-profits and employers become familiar and fluent in AI so that they can build with the new technology and achieve professional accreditation and certification throughout their journey.

Microsoft is collaborating with learning partners including QAFirebrandFast LaneSkillsoft Global KnowledgeGetMyFirstJobPwC, Microsoft’s non-profit partners Catch22Generation and The Prince’s Trust, to scale AI content and free digital training resources and courses.

Fluency, technical skills, and business transformation

Microsoft’s expanded AI resources will focus on three key areas:

  • Building AI fluency: Enabling workers, job seekers and AI-curious self-learners to build AI knowledge and understanding including responsible deployment. New non-profit partnerships with Generation, Catch22 and The Prince’s Trust to support individuals who face greater barriers to employment opportunity.
  • Developing AI technical skills: Enable those with AI knowledge to develop their technical skills and achieve certification through free, online self-learn training on modules including machine learning and data analysis.
  • Supporting AI business transformation: Support business leaders to manage AI transformation and worker upskilling across new AI products and services in order to take advantage of growth opportunities

New resources in the programme include the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI in the online learning market, new Microsoft Learn AI content, tools and resources, virtual training days for technical and AI decision makers, non-profit employability partnerships, AI business transformation modules for business leaders, self-guided AI learning journeys and access to LinkedIn AI learning pathway grants and resources.

Becoming a world leader in the age of AI

Luke Mckend, Senior Director, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, UK, says: “AI is accelerating workplace change, reshaping the skills needed for jobs and careers across industries. And while many professionals are keen to use AI within their jobs, they understandably feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount there is to learn and are looking for support.

For the UK to achieve its ambition of becoming a world leader in the age of AI, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to gain AI skills. Businesses will play a huge role in empowering their workforce with both the skills and confidence they’ll need to realise AI’s full potential – using the technology to take on some of the heavy lifting and remove the drudgery from day-to-day tasks, so people can focus on the high-value parts of their work.”

Making AI work for Britain

The future of work will be AI-enabled. Whilst discussions around the impact of AI on work often focus on machines replacing humans, the reality is that humans will increasingly work alongside machines and AI in the future workplace. In this report, techUK explores the impact of AI on work and the workforce, spotlighting nine actions for the UK government to support businesses and workers to take advantage of AI in the workplace.

Read here