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AI Skills for All: How IBM Is Helping To Close the Digital Divide

By Justina Nixon-Saintil

AI Skills for All: How IBM Is Helping To Close the Digital Divide

By Justina Nixon-Saintil

Published 10-19-23

Submitted by IBM

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AI has inspired millions of people around the world with ideas about what it can make possible. But this technological game changer has also provoked a lot of questions around how it will impact the world of work.

Change is happening, and fast. Research from IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) finds that executives estimate about 40% of their workforce will need to reskill over the next three years due to AI and automation.

Equipping the workforce with the skills to succeed tomorrow is a challenge we must address today. And it’s vitally important that everybody is given equal opportunity to participate and thrive.

For that reason, we at IBM recently announced a new commitment to train two million learners in AI in three years, with a focus on underrepresented communities. Equitable access is a priority for us and we’re working to ensure that everybody—including those who have historically been left behind during previous technological advances—are benefiting from and not being excluded from the latest developments in AI.

Free course offerings in generative AI for everyone

Our free education program, IBM SkillsBuild, makes it possible for learners across the world to benefit from AI education developed by IBM experts to provide the latest in cutting-edge technology developments.

IBM SkillsBuild courses are designed to build on each other, so learners can deepen their understanding as they go along. The core, entry-level learning plan is dedicated to “Artificial Intelligence Fundamentals”. This is comprised of six courses that require about 10 hours to complete, after which the learner earns a digital credential. “Artificial Intelligence Fundamentals” introduces learners to the history of AI and explores the ways that AI makes predictions, understands language and images, and learns using Deep Learning, neural networks that attempt to simulate the human brain.

People learn by doing, and so the courses in IBM SkillsBuild are designed to be interactive. For instance, in one hands-on simulation, learners build and run a machine learning model with IBM Watson Studio.

Beyond the fundamentals, we recently announced a new generative AI roadmap that includes new coursework on Prompt-Writing, Getting Started with Machine Learning, Improving Customer Service with AI, and Generative AI in Action. But AI is not just about being smart with technology, it is also about building trust and developing models responsibly; and so, IBM SkillsBuild also includes coursework on the important topic of AI ethics.

At course completion, learners earn IBM-branded digital credentials that are recognized by potential employers.

Using AI to improve the learner experience

AI features within IBM SkillsBuild enhance the learning experience. AI-powered solutions analyze students’ aptitudes, interests and accomplishments, and then suggest credentials to pursue. When a learner gets started on their educational journey, they will receive an AI-generated, tailored learning path, based on their personal preferences, experiences, and academic level. Meanwhile, chatbots help support learners throughout their journeys.

We are also using AI technologies to make IBM SkillsBuild better. AI helps us review feedback from learners and analyze the program’s performance, informing the improvements we make as we continue to develop it.

We also work with partners to use AI to analyze market trends, and this helps us be responsive, creating enhanced content that aligns with needs in the job market.

Expanding AI skills training through partnerships

In addition to the online courses that are available to everyone, IBM partners with expert organizations around the globe to help expand the reach of our skills training.

Having people on the ground is key to making an impact. Our local partners work every day to equip learners from underrepresented backgrounds with the cutting-edge STEM know-how they will need to succeed in the future workforce. They understand the diverse needs and realities of their communities.

For instance, in the US, IT Experience works with Black, other minority communities, and women returning to the workforce, to provide them with opportunities to gain experience and reskill — or upskill — in the technology sector. We also work to help refugees: Czechitas, a partner in the Czech Republic, is reskilling people who have fled the war in Ukraine. These are just a few examples.

AI and beyond

AI has the potential to make work better for everybody—if we get it right. As such, acquiring AI skills will be essential to tomorrow’s workforce.

Through IBM SkillsBuild, we hope to make this game-changing technology a tool that works to the benefit of as many people as possible.

Learn more about IBM SkillsBuild

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Innovation – joining invention and insight to produce important, new value – is at the heart of what we are as a company. And, today, IBM is leading an evolution in corporate citizenship by contributing innovative solutions and strategies that will help transform and empower our global communities.

Our diverse and sustained programs support education, workforce development, arts and culture, and communities in need through targeted grants of technology and project funds. To learn more about our work in the context of IBM's broader corporate responsibility efforts, please visit Innovations in Corporate Responsibility.

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