Preparing for the world of tomorrow: Microsoft France opens innovative new AI School

Microsoft France proudly opened the doors to its newly unveiled AI School on 6 March.

Located at the company’s Paris-based offices, the Microsoft AI School will see 24 students from a variety of backgrounds embark on a free, intensive seven month-course, during which they will learn invaluable AI development skills.

The course will prepare participants for future careers in AI, and will be followed by 12 months of employment at participating companies.

The new AI School is an embodiment of Microsoft’s mission to enable every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more, while contributing to the democratization of AI for people from all backgrounds.

Carlo Purassanta, President of Microsoft France believes that “France has all the assets needed to be an AI powerhouse, thanks to the quality of its researchers and engineers. If companies want to accelerate the development of strong projects, we must train AI experts.”

“I am very proud to be able to welcome our 24 students into our AI School, while preparing them for exciting careers. This is a pioneering project – a test drive under real conditions – which is only in its infancy!”

Preparing for the future
Experts forecast that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist 2030, do not exist today, while a study released by the UN shows that AI could help develop 21 million jobs in future.

These are just two of many predictions which fuel the necessity for opportunities such as Microsoft’s new AI School, which will allow the generation of today to prepare for the world of tomorrow.

Microsoft’s existing clients and partners, along with other companies, have expressed a strong desire for a need in AI skills, requiring more people than they have at present to develop AI in their companies – and the new AI School’s purpose it to ensure that these needs for AI skills are met.

Microsoft firmly believes in using and creating technology to provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of age, gender, background, experience or race – and this is reflected in the passionate group that makes up the AI School’s first roster of students.

Opportunities for all
The students participating in Microsoft’s AI School were selected in conjunction with Microsoft’s partner Simplon – a social enterprise that strives for equal opportunities in education and employment by providing free and inclusive digital training for people from all backgrounds.

With an average age of 26 (with the youngest and oldest being 19 and 39-years-old respectively), the AI School students are a very diverse group of passionate learners – many of whom are unemployed and striving to seize an opportunity offered by France’s digital economy.

Arlette, for example, is a 39-year-old oil industry worker from Cameroon, who is seizing this opportunity to fulfil her ambitions of developing AI applications which can help people in their everyday lives.

Other students at the AI school include 24-year-old Nisha, a former school teacher who wants to implement pedagogy and AI in education, and Nathalie – a 25-year-old law degree graduate who wants to walk a different path by working with AI and big data.

The range of experiences and diversity on offer, from self-taught coders to those with degrees, is inspirational, and all students share the same thing in common – a desire to learn new skills and prepare themselves for the future.

The course itself will cover the preparation and processing of AI data, the use of cognitive APIs, development and more, in addition to crucial soft skills such as creativity, collaboration and project management – all of which are vital skills to have in any modern workplace.

Following the seven-month course and 12-month employment period at participating companies, AI School students will have earned a number of professional qualifications, recognised by France’s Ministry Of Employment

Mounir Mahjoubi, France’s Secretary of State for Digital Affairs who was present at the AI School’s opening, welcomed Microsoft’s new commitment:

“The Microsoft AI school is a demonstration of how important a tool technology is for inclusion and growth. France has all the assets needed to become a major technological power, provided that all our citizens are armed to benefit from the skills necessary to develop this new economic deal.”

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