With talent pipelines pushed to their limits, Google just launched an ambitious new AI training program in Europe

Google logo pictured at the Google booth at ISE 2024 on January 30, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Google has launched a new AI training program in Europe in a bid to bolster workforce capabilities and provide vital talent to support the ongoing generative AI focus among large enterprises. 

The AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe, unveiled by the tech giant this week, marks the latest attempt from one of the three main western hyperscalers to support AI skills development. 

The company announced it will provide €25 million in funding to support AI training and skills across the continent, with €10 million dedicated to equipping workers with the skills they need to avoid being left behind as the industry embraces the AI boom. 

Google said the initiative will have a particular focus on giving vulnerable and underserved communities access to its AI skills development program.

The fund was announced in partnership with the Centre for Public Impact, and is currently taking applications from social enterprises and nonprofits to amplify the program’s reach among those who will benefit most from the training.

The initiative will offer foundational courses in AI in 18 languages, for free, with a number of modules on introductory AI skills to support individuals and businesses to get up to speed on the burgeoning technology.

Executive director at the Center for Public Impact, Adrian Brown, said prioritizing open access to AI skills is vital given the technology's potential to deepen economic divides.

“AI has enormous potential to transform the world for the better. Yet research shows that the benefits of AI could exacerbate existing inequalities — especially in terms of economic security and employment. This new program will help people across Europe develop their knowledge, skills and confidence around AI, ensuring that no one is left behind.”

The initiative will also bring a number of Google for Startups Growth Academies in EMEA, which is described as an, “equity-free program is to support startups using AI to solve society’s biggest challenges, in health, education and cybersecurity.”

The company’s previous ‘Grow with Google’ project, launched in 2015, which offered free training for the EU’s digital skills gap, saw huge demand and trained over 12 million people in Europe.. 

The AI Opportunity Initiative will look to build on this success and expand competencies in the EU workforce and drive further AI adoption among businesses in the region.

The Google AI training scheme isn't the only hyperscaler skills program 

AI skills deficits are frequently cited by IT professionals as the primary barrier holding them back from unlocking the benefits the technology can bring.

Recent research found two-thirds of IT decision makers were dealing with skills gaps in their teams, with 82% of IT professionals stating training is extremely or very important to their career. 

Google’s counterparts Amazon and Microsoft have also recently launched projects to boost AI skills among the workforce as each firm recognizes the dearth of talent available to power their AI ambitions.

Amazon announced its AI Ready initiative in November 2023, through which it plans on training 2 million people in AI skills by 2025. The project consists of eight new AI and generative AI courses accessible for free.

The initiative also includes a $12 million AWS Generative AI Scholarship that will offer over 50,000 high school and university students access to a new generative AI course through the Udacity online education platform. 

November 2023 also saw Microsoft jump on the AI skills bandwagon, announcing its AI Skills Challenge in the UK, which comprises a free online training program in the essentials of AI development

Speaking at the time, Simon Lambert, Microsoft UK’s chief learning officer, said making sure the labor market is ready for the oncoming spike in demand for AI skills is vital and fostering people’s interest in the technology has a role to play.

“As we look to build an AI ready economy we need people to become more curious about artificial intelligence … [e]very job will soon be supported by AI and we need people, with the right skills, to fill those jobs. That is why we have extended our skills commitment to help support one million people with AI skills by 2025.”

Solomon Klappholz
Staff Writer

Solomon Klappholz is a Staff Writer at ITPro. He has experience writing about the technologies that facilitate industrial manufacturing which led to him developing a particular interest in IT regulation, industrial infrastructure applications, and machine learning.