Although Big Tech is still (sometimes clumsily) figuring out generative AI’s ethics and implications, the genie is out of the bottle, and the technology is already integrating into the workforce. From that perspective, Microsoft announced a new program today to train workers on AI. The initiative will offer free coursework through LinkedIn, including certification. It’s somewhat ironic since the appeal of generative AI is that it’s dead simple to use: It automates content creation using everyday language. But the courses could still provide tips for composing the most effective prompts while showing beginners the ropes, giving them a chance to keep pace with our rapidly changing world.
Microsoft’s AI Skills Initiative, part of the company’s Skills for Jobs program, will include free courses created by (Microsoft subsidiary) LinkedIn, offering learners “the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI in the online learning market.” Microsoft says the courses will cover introductory AI concepts and “responsible AI frameworks,” culminating in certification. It’s launching in English only, but the company says it will add Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Simplified Chinese and Japanese “over the coming months.”
In addition, the company is launching a trainer toolkit for educators with “downloadable, bite-sized content for trainers” and a separate AI course for teachers and other trainers.
Microsoft also announced an open grant program for AI with an eye on boosting historically marginalized populations. The Generative AI Skills Grant Challenge is a collaboration between data.org, Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab and GitHub. It aims to “explore, develop, and implement how nonprofit, social enterprise and research or academic institutions can train and empower the workforce to use generative AI.” Grant recipients will receive financial support, group learning opportunities, data training / guidance and access to Microsoft events and cloud-computing resources. The grant program is accepting applications now with an August 15th deadline. You can learn more and apply here.