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AI training is in demand, and these tech organizations are offering it for free

Jill Barthhttps://hrexecutive.com/
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].

I took my last working trip of the year last week to Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent. Like me, many of you have spent the last few months absorbed in the tech conference season, following the drumbeat of all things generative AI.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that big tech organizations are concerned about their talent pipelines. This is dually reflected by employers in every industry, as HR teams seek to fill tech and AI-skilled positions within their companies. According to AWS, over 70% of employers say that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority—but three out of four report that they can’t find enough talent to do so.

Investment in AI training

To answer this demand issue, there’s been an influx of investment in AI training. Both AWS and IBM (and likely others) have made recent announcements about big money dedicated to getting more people up to speed with AI.

“The fundamental belief is that the future of tech is diverse,” said Jenni Troutman, head of products and services in training and certification at AWS. “We are at a place where we can build a diverse workforce from the ground up.” Her team aims to get skills out to anyone who wants to learn—not just people working at Amazon or AWS. She says it is necessary to target a diverse population from the start to expand the talent pool.

Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS keynote at re:Invent
A re:Invent keynote highlight from Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS. Photo by Jill Barth/HRE

To that aim, Amazon unveiled its AI Ready initiative, to provide 2 million individuals with free AI education by 2025. Amazon is also putting $12 million into the AWS Generative AI Scholarship for 50,000 underserved students around the world. This is on top of Amazon’s previous commitment to equip 29 million people with cloud computing skills by 2025, through AWS Educate, which is open to everyone.

Earlier this year, IBM announced a commitment to provide AI training to 2 million people through 2026, with attention to underrepresented communities. Gen AI coursework is housed in IBM SkillsBuild and is structured around training for specific technical roles.

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In an exclusive interview with HRE in October, IBM CHRO Nickle LaMoreaux said that HR leaders know that these skills are going to be needed in every job. “And so, this is a proactive way to make sure that people have access to AI skills as they enter the workforce,” she added.

HR Tech in action

Meanwhile, I’m watching the EU, where (as of this writing) lawmakers took a break from overnight talks about the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, the world’s inaugural legislation specifically addressing artificial intelligence. The goal of this framework is to ensure the safe development of AI tools and uphold compliance with the fundamental values of the European Union. Talks will resume on Dec. 12.

While the AI Act has been developed over two years, the group can’t reach a consensus on generative AI systems, which rose to prominence after the original plans were laid. Upcoming elections have increased the urgency of the discussions.

This week, IMB and Meta, plus 50 founding members, announced the AI Alliance. Developers and researchers in industry, academia and government have joined forces to “advance open, safe and responsible AI.” Find out more.

This article in The New York Times briefly posits AI regulation possibilities. One thought is that an international agency could oversee the subject. According to the piece: “A challenge will be overcoming the geopolitical distrust, economic competition and nationalistic impulses that have become so intertwined with the development of AI.”

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Eightfold AI this month introduced Career Ready DC, an AI-matching platform to connect job seekers and businesses. Dan Hopkins, vice president at Eightfold, said “Career Ready DC will reduce bias in the hiring process by focusing specifically on matching prospects’ skills with employer needs, and subsequently create family-sustaining career paths.”

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