Employers like IBM and Amazon are leading the push to equip the next generation with essential AI skills. IBM has pledged to train 2 million students by 2026, a commitment that reflects a broad strategy to prepare a skilled workforce adept in AI technologies. Following closely, Amazon announced a similar initiative, aiming to train 2 million people by 2025. Additionally, Amazon’s commitment includes $12 million in scholarships specifically for generative AI, highlighting a focus on advanced AI applications. These initiatives are strategic investments in human capital, aiming to bridge the current skills gap and prepare individuals for a tech-driven economy.

Student engagement with AI

Despite the growing integration of AI in various sectors, its adoption in educational settings is still moderate. According to a report by Anthology, only 38% of students engage with AI on at least a monthly basis. A global study by Chegg indicates even lower engagement in the U.S., with just 20% of students using generative AI. These figures suggest a gap between the capabilities of AI technology and its application at the student level, highlighting an opportunity for educational institutions to increase AI integration in their curricula.

A survey reveals that 60% of students express comfort with AI chatbots, indicating a general openness to interacting with AI technologies. This comfort with digital interactions is a positive indicator of the readiness of students to embrace more sophisticated AI tools. However, the actual usage rates suggest that familiarity does not always translate into practical use, pointing to a need for educational programs that not only introduce AI but also integrate it into everyday learning and problem-solving contexts.

Investments in AI education by universities

Institutions are also recognizing the importance of investing in AI capabilities. The University of Albany has allocated a substantial $200 million towards AI initiatives, positioning itself as a leader in higher education AI integration. Indiana University at Bloomington has received a $60 million donation, which it plans to use to improve its AI capabilities, further indicating a growing trend of financial backing for AI in academia. These financial commitments from various universities support the development of AI-focused curricula and will create hubs for advanced research and innovation in AI, fostering a new generation of tech-savvy graduates.

These strategic investments and educational initiatives are a collective effort from both corporate and academic sectors to prepare workforces for the challenges and opportunities presented by AI technologies. As these programs unfold, they will play a key role in shaping the technological proficiency of future professionals, so they are equipped to contribute effectively in an increasingly automated and AI-driven world.

UsingAI tools in education

Grammarly, a well-established tool in writing and communication skills, is now used by over 3,000 educational institutions. The University of Texas at Dallas, for example, has implemented Grammarly across its entire business school, emphasizing the tool’s importance for equitable access to AI-enhanced educational tools. Iowa State University also incorporates Grammarly’s latest AI-assisted features, demonstrating the tool’s broad utility in academic settings. Grammarly’s AI features assist in real-time feedback, idea articulation, and preparation for an evolving job market, thereby playing a key role in student development.

Tableau has also significantly impacted AI and data skills education, equipping over 3 million students and instructors with essential data skills across more than 5,500 institutions. Additionally, Tableau offers an AI Fundamentals course through Salesforce’s Trailhead platform, which is available for free and focuses on ethics and bias mitigation in AI. This course is part of Tableau’s broader effort to demystify AI for educators and help them integrate AI education into their curricula effectively.

Yet a striking discrepancy exists between the perceptions of higher education professionals and business leaders regarding career preparation. While 92% of higher education professionals believe their initiatives are effectively preparing students, only 11% of business leaders think that college graduates are adequately prepared for the workforce. This gap shows a major misalignment between educational outcomes and industry expectations, highlighting the need for closer collaboration between educational institutions and industry to align educational programs with real-world requirements.

Early AI education initiatives

IBM’s early training programs, in partnership with Usher’s New Look, start as early as eighth grade, aiming to provide career readiness training focused on AI. A YouGov survey shows that 61% of respondents believe it is necessary for K-12 students to learn AI-related skills, detailing the growing recognition of the importance of early AI education to prepare students for future careers. These initiatives are fundamental in building a foundation for lifelong learning and adaptation in an increasingly automated world.

Alexander Procter

April 25, 2024

4 Min