£17 million to boost skills and diversity in AI jobs
Up to £17 million in government funding will create more scholarships for AI and data science conversion courses, helping young people from groups underrepresented in the tech industry including women, black people, and people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds join the UK’s world-leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry.
The government is encouraging companies to play their part in creating a future pipeline of AI talent by co-funding the AI scholarships for the conversion courses. Industry support for these scholarships will help get more people into the AI and data science job market quicker and strengthen UK their businesses.
Together, government and industry funding will create two thousand scholarships for masters AI and data science conversion courses, each worth £10,000. The programme is enabling graduates to do further study courses in the field even if their undergraduate course is not directly related, creating a new generation of experts in data science and AI.
Courses are open to anyone who meets a participating university’s entry requirements. Details of how to apply are available on the universities’ websites. Eligible applicants can apply for a scholarship through their university. Please visit the Office for Student’s website for more information.
The UK has a long and exceptional history in AI, from codebreaker Alan Turing’s early work through to London-based powerhouse DeepMind’s pioneering research which will enable quicker and more advanced drug discovery.
AI underpins the apps which help us navigate around cities, stop online banking fraud and communicate with smart speakers.
The UK is ranked third in the world for private venture capital investment into AI companies (2019 investment into the UK reached almost £2.5 billion) and is home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies.
The new scholarships will ensure more people can build successful careers in AI, create and develop new and bigger businesses, and will improve the diversity of this growing and innovative sector.
DCMS Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp said: "The UK is already a world leader in AI. Today we’re investing millions to ensure people from all parts of society can access the opportunities and benefits AI is creating in this country.
"We are doubling the number of AI scholarships previously available to underrepresented groups to build a diverse and inclusive workforce fit for the future of tech."
Science Minister George Freeman said: "The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies, with AI already playing a key role in everything from climate science and medical diagnostics to factory robotics and smart cities.
"It is therefore essential that we continue to equip our workforce with the skills they need in this important technology, while also making the industry accessible to talented people from all backgrounds.
"That’s why today’s significant funding award is so important, which will see underrepresented groups trained up to build successful careers in AI, supporting the growth and diversity of AI in the UK."
UK AI Council Chair Tabitha Goldstaub said: "Ensuring there is a diverse talent pool furthering AI developments is vital for the success of the technology and society.
"These masters conversion courses welcoming people from non-STEM degrees attract a less homogeneous group which means the UK AI ecosystem benefits from graduates with different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences."
Obum Ekeke OBE, Head of Education Partnerships, DeepMind said: "The next generation of AI researchers must be representative of the world around us if AI is to benefit the whole of society.
"These scholarships will help to build a stronger and more diverse AI community in the UK, and bring a wider range of experiences - as well as valuable multidisciplinary expertise - to the field."
An independent organisation, to be announced later this year, will be responsible for encouraging industry participation and investment into the AI Scholarships scheme.
Read more here.
We are doubling the number of AI scholarships previously available to underrepresented groups to build a diverse and inclusive workforce fit for the future of tech.