Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced ‘AI Ready’, a new initiative tasked with providing free AI and generative AI skills training and education to two million people by 2025.
“With generative AI taking off, now is the time to do what we can to make sure the future generative AI workforce is diverse and inclusive,” said Coral Kennett, head of education in Canada for AWS.
AI Ready includes the following three initiatives, designed for adults and young learners:
- Eight new and free AI and generative AI courses, meant for both business and non-technical and technical audiences
- AWS will provide Udacity scholarships, valued at more than US$12 million, to more than 50,000 high school and university students from underserved and underrepresented communities globally, including in Canada.
- A new collaboration between Amazon Future Engineer and Code.org to launch Hour of Code Dance Party: AI Edition, an hour-long introduction to coding and AI for students to create their own virtual music video set to hit songs from artists including Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, and more.
These initiatives add to AWS’s commitment to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people, including 200,000 Canadians, by 2025.
AI Ready comes as AWS released a new study highlighting the hiring difficulties that Canadian employers encounter as they embark on their AI journey.
The study, which surveyed over 1,600 workers and 500 organizations in Canada, finds that 66 per cent of employers prioritize hiring AI talent, with many saying that they are even willing to pay 25 per cent more to find the right recruit.
The need for talent is dire, as AI continues to engulf all industries, and organizations scramble to keep up.
As a matter of fact, 83 per cent of all surveyed organizations expect to use AI-powered solutions across their organization by 2028. The sales and marketing departments, followed by the finance and IT departments, are expected to be the greatest beneficiaries of AI.
Generative AI is also expected to transform how we work, with over 86 per cent of employers and 74 per cent of employees (tech and non-tech workers) stating that they will “somewhat” or “extensively” use generative AI in their organizations in the next five years. Overall, employers believe AI can boost productivity by 39 per cent.
Hiring difficulties, however, remain a key roadblock. AWS explained that there is a lack of soft skills like critical thinking, which are essential for using AI tools, in addition to core technical skills.
This skills gap will only increase, said Kennett, if training and education doesn’t catch up, especially for the next generation of talent.
At the same time, the study shows that 70 per cent of employers struggle to implement an AI workforce training program, and 57 per cent just do not know what AI skills training programs are available.
Kennett added, “If generative AI is the future, the workforce of tomorrow needs to be ready, which is why, through our AI Ready commitment, we are making sure anyone with a desire to learn can access training.”