UK government announces £18.5m investment in AI training

The funding includes up to £13.5m for an extra 2,500 AI and data science conversion degrees, and £5m to drive adult online learning

UK government has announced £18.5m of investment to fund artificial intelligence conversion degrees, and to drive innovation in adult online learning.

The aim is to increase skills in AI and data science, and to support more adults to retrain and upskill in order to progress their careers or find new employment.

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Up to 2,500 people will have the opportunity to retrain in AI and data science through master’s conversion degrees at UK academic institutions over the next three years.

Those eligible to apply for the AI and Data conversion courses will already hold a degree in another discipline, and scholarships will be made available to support applications from diverse backgrounds. This includes underrepresented groups in the AI and digital workforce, such as women and those from minority ethnic backgrounds, or lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Technology companies are also encouraged to develop AI and automation innovations that can improve the quality of online learning for adults. The government is investing £5m in this area through the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, run in partnership with Nesta.

Nesta will provide both funding and expertise to incentivise tech organisations to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive and engaging online training for those wishing to move into skilled employment.

We all have busy lives, juggling work and family commitments, so online courses are a great way for more people to retrain or upskill and secure a rewarding career.
– Damian Hinds, UK education secretary

Vicki Sellick, executive director of programmes at Nesta, said: “In the face of automation, technology in the workplace is often portrayed as a threat. Yet Nesta’s own research shows technology could be used to inform workers about the skills they will need in a rapidly changing job market, and deliver flexible, personalised training.”

A report from the Department for Education (DfE) on AI education (AIEd), also published this week, finds that when used as a teaching aid alongside experienced tutors, AIEd can have “significant impacts on the quality of teaching”, including providing additional intelligence to tutors on learner performance, and supporting personalised self-directed learning.

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Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “We all have busy lives, juggling work and family commitments, so online courses are a great way for more people to retrain or upskill and secure a rewarding career.

“Investing in cutting-edge technologies such as AI will mean we can future-proof the online learning experience and ensure it better meets students’ needs.”

The full DfE report on AI, ‘Review of the online learning and artificial intelligence education market’ can be viewed and downloaded at

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