New funding to develop skills needed for AI and health solutions announced
12 new UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training in the development and application of AI – backed by £117 million in government funding. They will ensure every student is trained in responsible, trustworthy, and safe AI, whilst specialising in areas of priority for the UK – such as healthcare, the discovery of new treatments and boosting productivity in the NHS.
Creation of a £1 million AI Futures Grants scheme to help the next generation of AI leaders meet the costs of relocating to the UK.
The creation of a new dedicated visa scheme for the world’s most talented AI researchers to come to the UK on internships and placements, early in their careers, to encourage them to stay.
All of this builds on the further £8.1 million being available for postgraduate course scholarships in AI and data science. Find the rest of the measures here.
“Strengthening the link between academia and the tech industry is key to making AI work for all. We have long called for such a skills package that develops the next generation of tech talent. This is a good package of measures to ensure the UK continues to build a workforce fit for the future. The additional funding for AI diagnostics across 64 NHS Trusts is welcome, as is the ongoing work of the MHRA, NHS AI Lab and partners to improve the regulatory landscape. We would urge the Secretary of State to examine how AI and other digital health technologies can be deployed across the breadth of patient pathway to ensure that faster diagnosis is matched by access to treatment, and to ensure that roll-out of these technologies is equitable across the UK.”
In September, we called for a renewed focus on education and skills development to drive AI uptake. The UK has taken some steps to support people to acquire digital skills, but rapid developments in AI underpin an urgent need to turbocharge efforts to drive investment in digital skills, embrace flexible courses, and foster a culture of lifelong learning. We welcome these measures as a response to our report and look forward to continue working with government.
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.
As recommended in techUK’s Quantum report, we have long called for government to create more routes to support graduates and researchers, taking inspiration from the success of the AI Masters conversion courses—a joint government-industry collaboration which enable graduates to do further study courses in AI even if their undergraduate course is not directly related. Supported by techUK members including Deepmind, QuantumBlack, Cisco, BAE Systems, Infosys, and Accenture, this programme has enabled 2,500 people to develop new digital skills or retrain to help find new employment.
We are glad to see the announcement includes a new visa scheme as we must ensure that the UK has access to the large international talent pool from overseas, and that in turn, the UK remains an attractive place for international talent to develop a career in AI. Despite the already high costs, UK immigration fees have been raised further. As highlighted in our UK Tech Plan, the steep visa costs act as a deterrent for businesses and adversely affect the UK's attractiveness as a hub for tech companies. The UK's visa fees are already significantly more expensive than our neighbours in the EU. Ultimately, to maintain the UK's position at the forefront of global innovation and aspire to become a science and tech powerhouse, we must ensure that our visa system offers value for money and keeps costs competitive when compared to other countries.
techUK's UK tech plan
Our UK tech plan outlines how the next Government can utilise technology to create a better future for people, society, the economy and the planet. Download the plan, and find a summary of the key themes and recommendations, by clicking below.
Alongside the support for skills, a raft of measures have been revealed to unleash AI’s potential to improve work and boost our quality of life. Key health announcements:
64 NHS Trusts are being allocated £21 million to roll out AI diagnostic tools for lung cancer.
The MHRA is rolling out ‘AI-Airlock’ (open for products April 2024) to allow innovators to test technology in NHS settings, generating data on effectiveness quickly and safety. This should give NHS patients earlier access to novel technologies.
New international standards to ensure AI systems are developed using diverse datasets have been developed by a partnership of the NHS AI Lab, The Health Foundation, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and University of Birmingham.