With the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, we are providing funding for postgraduate conversion courses in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science in England.
These aim to help address the shortage of AI and data specialists in the UK and increase diversity in the sector.
Up to £17 million will be made available to 31 higher education providers between April 2023 and March 2025 to support the delivery of scholarships worth £10,000 each.
In March 2023 we awarded higher education providers up to £8.17 million to deliver 817 scholarships in the 2023-24 academic year.
A further £8.18 million has been confirmed to deliver up to 818 additional scholarships in the 2024-25 academic year.
Find out more about the courses in AI and data science
Find out more about the funding
Responding to skills shortages
The primary goal of these conversion courses is to respond to the shortage of data science and AI specialists in the UK.
According to the government's Digital Strategy, over 90 per cent of all jobs advertised in the UK now require digital skills.
The supply of skilled graduates would need to increase significantly to keep pace with current demand, and it is expected that demand will also increase rapidly in the next few years.
A DCMS report found there were more than 110,000 AI and data science job vacancies in 2020.
Data from a survey conducted by the AI Council and The Alan Turing Institute showed 81 percent of those researching, developing, working with, or using AI technologies agreed there were significant barriers in recruiting and retaining top AI talent in their domain within the UK.
The other important aim for this programme of work is to increase the number of people from groups currently underrepresented in the AI and data science fields, and to encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in these occupations.
This lack of diversity was highlighted in the government's AI Sector Deal.
This acknowledges that increasing diversity in the AI workforce is vital to ensure that everyone with the potential to participate has the opportunity to do so. For example, women represent 49 per cent of the workforce, but hold less than 19 per cent of all available technology jobs.
These conversion courses will build on work already underway to diversify the sector.
In the video below, Isabel Chapman from TechMums talks about work they've been doing with FutureLearn, the University of Leeds and UKBlackTech to provide flexible learning and working environments for women to find employment in the digital industry.