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Government injects £23m to boost UK skills and diversity in AI jobs

The government has pumped £23m into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data conversion courses for young and underrepresented groups, as the UK aims to be the industry leader.

There will be up to two thousand scholarships for masters AI conversion courses, and the aim is to create a new generation of experts in data science and AI, as well as drive diversity in the tech space.

The UK has a long history in AI, from codebreaker Alan Turing’s early work through to London-based powerhouse DeepMind’s 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 £2.5bn) and is home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies.

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.”

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.”

The government is encouraging companies to play their part in creating a future pipeline of AI talent by match-funding the AI scholarships for the conversion courses. Industry support would get more people into the AI and data science job market quicker and strengthen their businesses.

An independent organisation, to be announced later this year, will be responsible for encouraging industry participation and investment into the AI Scholarships scheme.

The new scholarships follow on from the Industrial Funded AI Masters programme supported by the government since 2019 to increase AI skills across the UK with industry investment.