The government has announced a £18.5m cash injection to drive up skills in AI and data science and support more adults to upskill and retrain to progress in their careers or find new employment. Up to 2,500 people will have the opportunity to retrain and become experts in data science and AI, thanks to a £13.5m investment to fund new degree and Masters conversion courses and scholarships at UK academic institutions over the next three years.
Commenting on the news, Jos Martin, Senior Engineering Manager at MathWorks, argues here that incorporating project-based learning methods will be crucial for the success of this initiative.
“As AI becomes more prevalent across industries, there is an urgent need to grow the skills needed to develop AI systems and design deep networks that will serve businesses. However, we need to be sure that students are being taught in the most appropriate manner as this will ultimately shape the success of the government’s investment.
“Practical, project-based learning is key. These people need to gain hands-on experience using software and deep learning tools that are used in industry, so they can apply their learnings into the real world of work. Otherwise, these students simply won’t be prepared to deliver AI projects once they graduate, which could delay vital AI work in sectors such as healthcare, energy, manufacturing and more. By extending the approach to incorporate industry-standard software, instructors not only keep students motivated but also prepare them for a wide range of careers.
“We are only starting to scratch the surface in terms of exploring AI’s potential and all its use cases. By feeding the industry with more and more talent, we will be able to realise the technology’s full potential. But current investment is not enough. We need to see continued investment from parliament as well as business to inspire the next generation of AI leaders and facilitate research and innovation during these crucial testing and development stages.”