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Thousands more to train in future tech like AI as government unveils over £1.1 billion package to skill-up UK

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan outlined plans to upskill millions across the UK in AI, quantum and beyond in a speech at the Maths Summit in London.

£1.1 billion to train over 4,00 students in future technologies

Thousands more people across the UK will train and gain qualifications in future tech like artificial intelligence, and others that could transform areas like medicine, 6G and quantum computing, thanks to a package of more than £1.1 billion to skill-up the country.

Addressing the Maths Summit at the Science Museum in London today (Tuesday 12 March), the Science and Technology Secretary set out plans to revolutionise the UK’s skill-base in key industries, aiming to ensure the UK is home to the world’s most highly skilled and well-trained workforce in future technologies.

As part of these plans the Science and Technology Secretary unveiled the UK’s biggest-ever investment in engineering and physical science doctoral skills – the highest university degrees. Over £1 billion from government, business, charities and academia will train over 4,000 talented students across the UK, from Edinburgh to Bristol, in 65 Centres for Doctoral Training – ensuring the UK’s brightest minds have exciting opportunities to fulfil their ambitions closer to home.

The majority of opportunities will also be led from outside the south-east of England, with more than 350 places for students in Glasgow, over 300 in Edinburgh, over 250 in Bristol and over 150 in Sheffield and Manchester respectively.

It includes a Centre at King’s College London training researchers to revolutionise personalised surgery through advanced engineering such as micro-surgical robots and chemical techniques which allow for surgery ‘without the knife’ and work at the University of Bristol to take advantage of developments in digital chemistry, including artificial intelligence, to help develop new drugs, such as antibiotics and cancer treatments. Others will support the critical technologies of engineering biology, semiconductors, quantum technologies and future telecoms which are key to giving the UK a strategic advantage, building on our country’s strengths and helping to grow the economy.

It comes alongside further investment of over £60 million for new quantum skills programmes running until 2034 – addressing a top priority for businesses developing the next generation of quantum technologies, in being able to access the right skills and talent.

This includes £14 million for 100 quantum PhD studentships in universities across the UK and another £14 million to fund early career researchers, through a competition open now and running until 10 April. It also includes £4 million to create more apprenticeship pathways into quantum through a pilot scheme and ensuring those from a range of educational backgrounds can enter the quantum workforce. This will drive forward innovations that allow us to develop new drugs and materials, turbo charge machine learning, better diagnose and treat diseases, and more to boost economic growth and security.

Building on the Chancellor’s announcement of the £7.4 million AI upskilling fund, the Science and Technology Secretary issued a call to action for eligible small and medium enterprises in the Professional and Business Services sector to register their interest in the scheme, ahead of an information webinar in April and the application process opening in May. The pilot will help small and medium enterprises to unlock the opportunities AI brings and develop AI skills of the future, helping fuel growth across the economy.

Together these are the latest measures in the government’s mission to help businesses realise the enormous benefits of AI, which could increase UK GDP by up to 10.3% by 2030.


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