Microsoft unveils first professional certificate for generative AI skills

With the new AI Skills Initiative, people can take free online training via LinkedIn to learn concepts of AI good toward a Career Essentials certificate.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
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Microsoft has added a new type of training and certification to its lineup that taps into the latest interest and excitement around AI. Part of the company's Skills for Jobs program, the new professional certificate on Generative AI will be given to anyone who takes the free classes on AI and passes the required exam.

Available through LinkedIn Learning, the Career Essentials in Generative AI program offers a free course on generative AI, a technology so named because it can generate different kinds of content. This form of AI has created a huge buzz due to such companies as OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google launching their own AI chatbots that people can use to ask questions, get information, and create content.

AlsoChatGPT vs. Bing AI: Which AI chatbot is better for you?

With its newfound popularity, AI has been seeping into more products, services, and organizations. This shift means that more workers will need to understand how to use AI, a realization that prompted Microsoft to devise the new certificate.

In an article published on LinkedIn, Kate Behncken, Corporate VP for Microsoft Philanthropies, called the initiative the first professional certificate on generative AI. Through the five classes, people will start by learning the basic concepts of AI and then advance into AI frameworks. Passing the assessment then entitles someone to the Career Essentials certificate.

Microsoft's Career Essentials in Generative AI course

The course includes the following individual sessions:

  1. What Is Generative AI? - Learn about the basics of generative AI, including its history, popular models, how it works, ethical implications, and much more.
  2. Generative AI: The Evolution of Thoughtful Online Search - Explore the distinctions between search engines and reasoning engines, with a focus on learning thoughtful search strategies in the world of generative AI.
  3. Streamlining Your Work with Microsoft Bing Chat - Learn how to leverage Microsoft Bing Chat to streamline and automate your work.
  4. Ethics in the Age of Generative AI - Learn why ethical considerations are a critical part of the generative AI creation and deployment process and explore ways to address these ethical challenges.
  5. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - Get a simplified overview of the top tools in artificial intelligence.

Currently offered in English, the certificate will be available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese in the coming months. Following Microsoft's six other Career Essentials Professional Certificates in the Skills for Jobs program, the AI classes will be unlocked and free through 2025.

Beyond the certificate-driven training in AI, Behncken said that Microsoft will kick off a toolkit for teachers and trainers who provide training to different people and communities. The toolkit will contain downloadable content for trainers on the practical uses of AI as well as an AI course designed for educators.

Also: This global index ranks which nations dominate AI development

Plus, Microsoft is launching a couple of challenges aimed at fostering learning in AI.

Starting July 17, its Learn AI Skills challenge is designed to teach people AI skills using Microsoft products. The company will also team up with GitHub and data.org on a Generative AI Skills Grant challenge, an open grant program geared toward nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and educational or research institutions focused on implementing AI for historically marginalized populations around the world.

Based on a survey for Microsoft's recent Work Trend Index, 62% of the respondents said that they spend too much time searching for information in a typical workday. And though almost half said they're worried about AI potentially replacing their jobs, 70% said that they would offload as much work as possible to AI to ease their workloads.

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