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AI Reskilling and the Intersection of Society and Technology

In this episode of the AnalystANGLE, I’m joined by fellow analysts, industry experts, and members of theCUBE Collective community Betty Junod and Sarbjeet Johal for a conversation centered on AI reskilling and exploring the intersection of society and technology we are navigating.

Microsoft’s AI Reskilling Initiative in India

Our conversation started with a discussion of Microsoft’s AI reskilling announcement last week around plans to train two million people in India with AI skills by 2025. This training will be delivered in partnership with governments, nonprofits, corporate organizations, and communities and designed to help the future workforce learn to harness and use the power of AI.

While not the first skills initiative Microsoft has launched, the fact that it is in India, which is home to what is arguably one of the biggest potential workforces in the world, is significant. Microsoft shared that this initiative is also intended to help future-proof workers (and organizations) and address inequalities that might arise as certain jobs or tasks are replaced by technology. This includes providing both basic and advanced AI training to 500,000 students and job seekers, raising awareness of responsible AI use and AI-enabled caregivers for 400,000 students in remote and tribal areas of India, and providing in-depth AI technical training for 100,000 young women.

AI Reskilling: Building the Workforce of the Future

AI reskilling is an area where there is much focus today. Research from IBM’s Institute for Business Value published in October of 2023 found that executives estimate they will need to reskill some 40% of their workforce over the course of the next three years due to advancements in AI and automation. Moreover, 4 in 5 executives surveyed believe generative AI will change roles and skills, which we know will impact employees at all levels of the organization, with entry level employees impacted most significantly. For organizations, future-proofing employees includes things like:

  • Equipping workers with the right AI-focused knowledge and tools, and fostering their ability to use AI tools, which will allow them to do their work more quickly and effectively.
  • Redesigning internal learning and development programs to make continuous learning a reality in the workplace and an ongoing focus for employees at all levels.
  • Helping close the skills gap by building a mix of soft skills and tech skills to support the kind of higher-level work that AI throughout the organization will facilitate.

Here’s a look at what data from the IBM study on the impact of AI by 2025 on workers throughout an organization:

AI Reskilling: the impact of Generative AI in the workplace

Image source: IBM Institute for Business Value

The Challenges (and Responsibilities) Ahead for Employers

We discussed some of the challenges and responsibilities ahead for employers as they tackle AI reskilling initiatives, but began our discussion with the fundamental reality that machines have always replaced humans — we have walked this path before. However, for the first time in history, machines are now replacing cognitive tasks typically handled by humans. New skills will be required to train people on the many things humans can do better than machines and the responsibility that large companies like Microsoft and others must lead in this reskilling effort.

We explored the theory of “skills gravity” and the responsibility technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Meta, Apple, and others share to create this skills gravity. While these AI reskilling initiatives align with their greater goal of training people on new technologies, it is also an understandably selfish but necessary move, training a new generation of technology workers to work effectively inside their platforms and with their technology solutions.

Technology Leaders Stepping Up With Reskilling Initiatives

Microsoft is not the only technology company with AI reskilling initiatives in place. Here are just a few of the Big Tech companies who have made significant commitments in reskilling initiatives..

Google Cloud offers new generative AI training content to help “cloudify skills” and advance cloud careers.

In September of 2023, IBM committed to train two million in AI in the next three years, again focusing on underrepresented communities. Equitable access is a priority so that workers aren’t left behind. In addition to collaborating with universities and providing access to IBM-led training and free online courses in generative AI and Red Hat open source technologies. IBM also offers free training through the free IBM SkillsBuild program that consists of courses in AI fundamentals (e.g. how to develop effective queries, etc.), chatbots, and AI ethics. Upon completion, participants earn certifications from IBM that should prove valuable in their career journeys.

In September of 2021, as part of its Upskilling 2025 pledge, Amazon announced a commitment of $1.2 billion designed to upskill and reskill Amazon employees, providing access to skills training and education programs through 2025. While this is an internally focused effort, helping Amazon employees learn new skills that will allow them to transition to different roles within the company and leverage these new, in-demand skills, Amazon also has partnerships with universities, high schools, and even middle schools, helping to train the next generation of technology workers.

Google Cloud offers new generative AI upskilling training content intended to help “cloudify skills” and advance cloud careers.

In September of 2023, IBM made a commitment to train two million in AI in the next three years, again focusing on underrepresented communities. Equitable access is a priority so that workers aren’t left behind. In addition to collaborating with universities and providing access to IBM-led training and free online courses in generative AI and Red Hat open source technologies. IBM also offers free training through the free IBM SkillsBuild program that consists of courses in AI fundamentals (e.g. how to develop effective queries, etc.), chatbots, and AI ethics. Upon completion, participants earn certifications from IBM that should prove valuable in their career journeys.

This was one of many conversations happening in the tech ecosystem and beyond about the impact of AI, on society, on workers, and on the workplace. It’s good to see the Big Tech players invest in reskilling and retraining, and also their focus on mitigating inequities that the adoption of AI will no doubt cause, especially for those in entry or mid-level roles and/or in developing countries where skills training, education, and providing opportunities for the marginalized are literally life-changing.

About the AnalystANGLE: In this series, you can expect interesting, insightful, and timely discussions on a variety of topics, including technology news coverage of major vendors. Be sure to hit that “subscribe” button so that you’ll never miss an episode. As always, let us know if you’ve got something you’d like us to cover. You can find us on the interwebs here:

Shelly Kramer on LinkedIn | Twitter/X

Betty Junod on LinkedIn | Twitter/X

Sarbjeet Johal on LinkedIn | Twitter/X

Disclosure: theCUBE Research is a research and advisory services firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, which can include those mentioned in this article. The author holds no equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually, and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of theCUBE Research or SiliconANGLE Media as a whole.

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