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Microsoft partners with universities to launch 10 AI Digital Labs in India

Microsoft partners with universities to launch 10 AI Digital Labs in India
Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari (sixth from left) with heads and senior executives of various educational institutions

Tech giant Microsoft said on Thursday it was partnering with higher education institutions in India to launch 10 artificial intelligence Digital Labs to increase the number of AI-trained professionals.

India, which ranks third after the US and China in AI skills, is expected to have 700 million skilled workers by 2022.

“As AI becomes mainstream, organizations will require talent with skillsets that are very different from what exist now. Educators and institutions are integral to the skilling revolution taking root in the country. With the right technology infrastructure, curriculum and training, we can empower today’s students to build the India of tomorrow,” said Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India.

According to a recent Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific study, lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programmes were the top challenges faced by Indian organisations in adopting AI to accelerate their businesses. 

As part of the three-year programme, the company and the institutions will provide infrastructure, curriculum, training, access to cloud and AI services, development tools and support.

The company will also help in setting up of core AI infrastructure and IoT Hub as well as provide access to a wide range of AI developmental tools and Azure AI Services such as Microsoft Cognitive Services, Azure Machine Learning and Bot Services.

“Training programs for faculty will include workshops on cloud computing, data sciences, AI and IoT. Additionally, the faculty of the institutions will receive assistance in strategizing content and curricula for project-based and experiential learning,” Maheshwari said.

The company said the programme is likely to train 10,000 developers and skill 100,000 young students.

The institutes partnering with Microsoft for the programme include BITS Pilani, BML Munjal University, ISB, Kalpataru Institute of Technology, KL University, Periyar University, Karunya University, SRM University, SVKM (NMIMS) and Trident Academy of Technology.

Capegemini launches digital academies

Separately, IT and professional services provider Capgemini said on Thursday it was launching its Digital Academy initiative in India, a global programme focused on digital inclusion aimed to reintegrate a wide range of people from marginalized backgrounds.

In this first phase in India, two Digital Academies are being setup -- a non-residential and co-ed centre in Mumbai and an all-woman residential centre in Pune.

Capgemini said it has partnered with Pratham Infotech Foundation to implement the programme and with Simplon.Co for content, knowledge and pedagogy.  

It further said that it will play an advisory role through its human resources teams and subject matter experts to validate training curriculum and pedagogy, and ensure that the candidates are trained in competences corresponding to needs of the job market.

The Mumbai and Pune academies will initially focus on training 50 unemployed youth each in future skills.

The technical courses will include coding, web development, and SQL (Standard Query Language), the company said, adding that soft skills too will be imparted to the participants to ensure they are job-ready.

The length of each training programme is around 500 hours. Every successful participant will be awarded a diploma certified by Capgemini and partners, said Ashwin Yardi, CEO of Capgemini India.

The company has already opened Digital Academies and similar digital inclusion initiatives in a number of countries around the world including North America, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, and is expected to launch one soon in Germany.

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