Microsoft’s first Generative AI certificate is available for free

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Microsoft and LinkedIn launched the AI ​​Skills Initiative certification program on Wednesday, which is a library of free courses for professionals who are new to generative AI skills and want to learn how to apply generative AI to their work.

In addition, Microsoft will award a grant for outstanding ideas on training employees of nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and research or academic institutions to use generative AI, with proposals expiring on August 15.

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What does Microsoft’s AI Competency Initiative involve?

The Microsoft AI Skills Initiative, developed with LinkedIn, consists of five modules. Each module includes a video; some of the modules are packaged with quizzes, a workbook file, or both. Successful completion of all five modules awards the student with a professional certificate in Generative AI for display on LinkedIn Learning.

The content presented in the AI ​​Skills Initiative certification leans towards Microsoft’s Bing Chat, which is based on OpenAI’s GPT-4, rather than its rival, Google’s Bard.

The Professional Certificate in Generative AI Training will be available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Simplified Chinese and Japanese and will be free until 2025.

WATCH: Learn how Generative AI is transforming cloud security. (TechRepublic)

“We have the opportunity to provide vital information to everyone, everywhere, to help us stay ahead of skills gaps and leverage its creativity to retrieve actionable insights,” said Naria Santa Lucia, general manager of digital inclusion at Microsoft , in an email to Tech Republic. “As we’re learning, technology is also learning from us, and we have the power to shape how technology can best support us.”

Microsoft offers multiple AI skills training courses

The LinkedIn training course is part of Microsoft’s Skills for Jobs program, which includes a training module for teachers, trainers, and facilitators exploring artificial intelligence. Additionally, Microsoft launched the Learn AI Skills Challenge, a branded certification available from July 17 to August 14.

What is the Generative AI Skills Challenge?

The Generative AI Skills Challenge, which runs from now through fall 2023, aims to teach employees how to use generative AI to create positive social change. In particular, it focuses on improving skills, socio-economic mobility and Internet adoption among historically marginalized groups.

Five winners will each be chosen from the regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America. Each winner will receive cash prizes of up to $250,000, as well as cohort and Microsoft-supported events, data training and technical guidance, and Azure cloud computing space.

The grant is also supported by GitHub, Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab, and is a non-profit organization funded by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Together, we are taking a significant step toward fulfilling’s commitment to train one million purpose-driven data professionals by 2032,” said Danil Mikhailov, executive director of, in a statement. press.

Grant winners will be announced in November 2023. Projects are expected to finish in June 2024.

“AI offers perhaps even more potential for the good of mankind than any invention that has preceded it,” Microsoft president and vice president Brad Smith said in a blog post in response to ongoing US policy discussions. on the use of generative AI.

Generative AI skills are among the top three training priorities of companies

More than 75% of companies plan to adopt artificial intelligence in the next five years, the World Economic Forum found. According to the WEF Future of Jobs 2023 report, employee training on the use of artificial intelligence and big data is the third business priority for skills training that companies plan to focus on over the next five years. That statistic includes generative AI or other technologies that often come under the same banner, such as machine learning.

Microsoft’s May 2023 Work Trend Index found that 49% of people are concerned about AI making their jobs obsolete. At the same time, 70% are open to the possibility of delegating some tasks to AI to reduce their workloads.

One element of skills training that is somewhat unique to generative AI is the practice of rapid engineering, Shravan Goli, chief operating officer at Coursera, pointed out in an email to TechRepublic.

Unlike other business software, generative AI tools require the user to train the tool itself, Goli said. Without good suggestions, the tool won’t be able to help employees increase productivity significantly, and increased productivity is one of the most promising components of generative AI for today’s workers.

SEE: This Customizable Timely Engineer Hiring Kit from TechRepublic Premium

He also noted that generating AI skills training requires ethical oversight, which Coursera addresses in their free training modules.

As with any emerging technology, the company is still exploring its broader implications and managing the guardrails, Goli said. To leverage this incredibly powerful tool while ensuring responsible employee use, I believe organizations need to carefully outline ethical guidelines.

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