Microsoft has recently unveiled an ambitious nationwide initiative in Ireland aimed at upskilling individuals of all ages and backgrounds in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Spearheaded by the tech giant’s ‘Skill Up Ireland program, the initiative comprises three distinct educational programs catering to different segments of the population, ranging from primary and post-primary students to graduates and professionals seeking to advance their careers.
Under the Skill Up Ireland initiative, Microsoft has introduced a comprehensive range of courses designed to provide industry-recognized certifications in the realm of AI. The programs include an intensive six-week ‘Introduction to AI’ course tailored for individuals over the age of 18. Delivered through live virtual sessions, the course equips participants with foundational knowledge and essential skills in AI, catering to those with limited or no prior understanding of the subject.
Professional certification for career advancement
In a bid to support graduates and working professionals in enhancing their digital and AI competencies, the Skills for Jobs initiative offers a diverse array of courses leading to eight professional certificates. As part of this initiative, a specialized AI learning pathway has been integrated, allowing participants to improve their proficiency in AI and attain a Professional Certificate in Generative AI, delivered in partnership with Fastrack into Information Technology.
Moreover, Microsoft has expanded its Microsoft Dream Space digital skills program, extending its reach to primary and post-primary students. Within the Dream Space curriculum, students will gain fundamental insights into the creation and application of AI, along with an understanding of the ethical implications associated with its use. Upon successful completion of the program, students will be awarded Dream Space certificates, recognizing their dedication to mastering AI fundamentals.
Driving economic opportunities and bridging the skills gap
James O’Connor, site leader at Microsoft Ireland and VP of the Microsoft Global Operations Service Center, emphasized the pivotal role of AI-enabled innovation in generating economic opportunities. Acknowledging the growing importance of AI proficiency in the workforce, O’Connor highlighted the significance of AI learning programs in equipping individuals with the analytical, creative thinking, and technical skills necessary to thrive in an AI-driven economy.
Dara Calleary, the Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital, and Company Regulation, commended Microsoft for its commitment to fostering widespread access to digital and AI skills. Recognizing the critical need for collaborative efforts between the government, industry, and the education sector, Calleary emphasized the importance of public awareness and informed decision-making to leverage AI for the collective benefit. Furthermore, Calleary applauded the bespoke ‘Introduction to AI course as a significant contribution to broader digital literacy and skill development efforts.
The launch of Microsoft’s AI upskilling initiative marks a significant step toward realizing the ambitions outlined in Ireland’s National AI Strategy. By promoting a culture of lifelong learning and fostering a comprehensive understanding of AI, Microsoft aims to facilitate the integration of AI technologies into diverse sectors, aligning with the nation’s goal of achieving 75% AI adoption across businesses by 2030. With the collaborative efforts of industry leaders and government bodies, the initiative is poised to pave the way for a digitally skilled and AI-empowered Ireland.