Answering “Yes” to Hard Questions About the SKills Gap, and The Future of Work

A recent article from the University of California’s Chief Innovation Officer, about the impact of disruptive technologies on jobs and skills, poses critical questions about how we connect learning to jobs—today, and in the future.

Future of Work

Everyone from politicians to policy makers, utopianists to university professors, innovators to investors, is talking about the future of work, the fourth industrial revolution, and the automation age. It’s hard to avoid these topics, and if you’re between the ages of, say, 16 and 80, you probably shouldn’t avoid them.

Our work lives are changing, and depending on how we manage the transition, this could either be a new golden age, or a serious shock to the system.

At Udacity, we’re engaged in helping lifelong learners across the globe empower themselves through learning, in order to build rewarding lives and careers. As such, we’re acutely aware of the looming changes—the theories around how it’s going to happen, and what it’s all going to mean.

We engage every day with innovators, educators, students, employees and thought leaders, to better understand what education needs to do, be, and represent as we move forward. We work with recruiters, hiring managers, entrepreneurs, and executives, to better forecast what skills will be needed, where the demand will be, and what career advancement will look like in the days, years, and decades to come. We collaborate with individuals, startups, and global corporations, to better understand how and where the work of the future will happen. In short, we spend a vast amount of time learning from anyone and everyone about what the future holds, and how we can best prepare our students to succeed.

We listen, we talk, we watch, we ask, and we read.

One article that recently impressed us for its ambitious scope, rich degree of insight, and clear-eyed understanding of where the world is heading, is a post by Christine Gulbranson, the Chief Innovation Officer for the University of California System. The article is entitled The Future of Work: The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Jobs and Skills. Here is a sample of the wisdom Gulbranson shares in this provocative and timely piece:

“It’s not difficult to make some basic calculations about what skill sets will be needed in the future: automate predictable manual labor jobs and the skills demanded for such jobs decreases. More automated factories will increase the demand for hard skills in mechanical engineering, software architecture, coding, algorithms, data structures, data analysis/data science, and machine architecture/design. Increasing gene editing and robotic surgery will increase the demand for software engineers and mechanical engineers who also have medical skills. Move to IoT cities and policy makers and lawyers will need to understand coding, software architecture, economics, and more, on top of what they’re expected to know today.

Clearly with a rise of connected devices and infrastructure, machines, AI, spatial computing, blockchain, and autonomous vehicles, there comes an increase in demand for STEAM skills. However, sitting on top of hard skills is a deep and strong layer for cognitive, analytical, and soft skills. Employers won’t be looking for a degree that signifies what a candidate knows: they will be looking for someone who can learn, combine and analyze, problem-solve, create, and adjust.”

It’s that last sentence that especially resonated with us, because this echoes exactly what we hear directly from employers every single day. The pace of modern business and the rapid advance of technology have significantly altered the hiring landscape in such a way that characteristics such as agility, growth mindset, adaptability, creativity, and grit have emerged as the most important factors in predicting a successful hire.

That’s not to say that acquired skills don’t matter—they do!—but the ability to learn new skills and apply them has become just as important as the skills you already possess.

This is also not to say that educational pedigree doesn’t have a place any longer—it does—but what constitutes credible pedigree is changing rapidly. As we’ve learned in the years since first launching our Nanodegree programs, a Nanodegree credential fulfills a dual role. In addition to affirming your skills acquisition, earning a Nanodegree credential stands as evidence that you are a self-motivated problem-solver who possesses grit and determination.

Gulbranson’s article concludes on a sobering note of caution:

“Finally, as we already know today, if education can’t keep up with changing industry, then the skills gap will hinder technological advancement and adoption.”

She goes on to ask some powerful questions, such as:

  • Are students learning how to learn, handle high complexity, and be flexible?
  • Are they learning how to make the invisible visible, and how to make good decisions using data and analysis?
  • Are there solutions that don’t cost an arm and a leg and last four years when the industry needs a software engineer who is also a psychologist to create a product that detects the mood of drivers and auto-shuts off the car appropriately?

We’re proud to be part of a new generation of learning providers offering opportunities that represent a “yes” answer to all the above, and we’re grateful to innovators like Christine Gulbranson who are out there asking the hard questions, and providing the right answers.

Through your commitment to lifelong learning at your organization, you are helping build rewarding careers for employees, while creating an environment for innovation.

~

Visit udacity.com/enterprise to discover how we can help your organization successfully navigate workforce transformation!

Future Focused: Udacity and AT&T Join Forces to Train Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow

AT&T is in the midst of one of the most significant transformations in its more than 140-year-old history, and their work with Udacity enables both the upskilling of its existing workforce, and the development of vital new talent pipelines.

 

Across every sector of the global economy, we are seeing profound signs of transformation as the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate. From tiny startups to massive corporations, organizations are rethinking the future of work, and what it will require in the way of new approaches to learning, training and hiring.

The Future of Work

As a provider of learning experiences designed explicitly to support career advancement in the digital economy, Udacity sits at the critical junction where employer needs meet employee aspirations. We connect learning to jobs in new and vital ways. Our ongoing collaboration with AT&T offers a powerful example of what is possible when industry and education come together to support digital transformation.

New Skills for a New Century

AT&T is in the midst of one of the most significant transformations in its more than 140-year old history. Theirs is an industry with constantly changing expectations, and customers that demand progress and innovation. The key to success in this environment is employee commitment to continuous learning, powering the company to succeed.

To keep pace, we worked to create a culture of continuous learning. We expect that in the future, the job market will increasingly place a premium on ongoing worker knowledge and training. Accordingly, the demand for us all to be lifelong learners will only intensify. On-demand, mobile, swift, specific skills-based learning is the future.” —John G. Palmer, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, AT&T

AT&T recognized they needed a workforce with more than just relevant hard skills—they needed continuous learners that were focused, curious, and driven to master the very latest tools and technologies. They also realized their transformation efforts would require a two-pronged approach: they would need to upskill their existing workforce, while simultaneously developing new talent pipelines that would deliver exceptional candidates. To help accomplish this, AT&T joined with Udacity in 2014 to co-create our first Nanodegree programs, which was ultimately integral to our by-industry, for-industry approach to education and training.

Today, AT&T spends upwards of $200 million a year on their flagship internal training curriculum, known as T University. This effort enables their existing employees to take hands-on courses in subjects like data science and machine learning. The company also provides more than $24 million in tuition aid annually to enable their employees to engage in learning outside the company. More than 2,000 AT&T employees have completed Nanodegree programs.

Internship opportunities and new talent pipelines

Parallel to these internal upskilling and reskilling initiatives, a number of Udacity graduates from outside the company have been recruited and hired through AT&T’s Technology Development Program (TDP), which was developed to bring software development interns into the organization, and provide them the opportunity to learn, work, and earn full-time roles.

“We’ve put Udacity graduates in many different roles such as full-stack development, front-end, back-end, & iOS development; they’ve succeeded in all of these places … Whether those Nanodegree graduates have formal STEM education or not, Udacity has prepared them for their internship, and our colleagues in other parts of the business have been pleased with the results.” —Teresa Ostapower, Senior Vice President, Technology Transformation, AT&T

Swati Lingaraj Kamtar is an Associate Applications Developer at AT&T. She was hired through the TDP internship program, after having completed Udacity’s Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree program. She’s a perfect example of how genuinely committed to their employees—and to continuous learning—AT&T really is; she’s already enrolled in a new Nanodegree program, with the full support and encouragement of her supervisor at AT&T.

“Our Udacity hires come from varying backgrounds and thus bring different perspectives that we appreciate. At AT&T, we value teamwork and the idea that a small group of talented people is more innovative than a single person. Adding those different life experiences and skills into our teams is valuable as we drive forward as a company.” —Teresa Ostapower

Robert Anderson has been an AT&T employee for two years now. He too came to the company via Udacity and the TDP internship program. It nearly didn’t happen for Robert. The first time he became aware of the opportunity, he didn’t apply for the internship. He didn’t believe he was qualified. He’d come to programming late in life, and only after spending years in other fields. He was barely three months into a Udacity Nanodegree program, and in his own words, he was actually “terrified.” But shortly after he graduated, he had another opportunity to apply for an internship, and this time, he took it. He not only landed an internship, he then earned a full-time role. Like Swati, he also returned to Udacity for more learning.

To hear Robert describe getting offered the full-time role, and to experience his passion for learning is to witness firsthand the true depth of AT&T’s commitment, and the true value of a Udacity education:

“I wanted to stay with AT&T, and for them to give me the opportunity; it was an amazing feeling. It was kind of like fireworks going off; like, I did it, I’m actually legitimate in the field, I actually have the skill set. It was a great moment. The more you learn, the more you get out of life. You’re increasing your awareness and your understanding of what’s going on, you’re leveling up. I can’t think of a better endeavor than to invest in yourself and to be the best you can be.”

A culture of continuous learning

Udacity was founded to offer innovative new learning experiences to individuals seeking to master the most important, the most-cutting edge, and the most valuable 21st century skills. As our work with AT&T makes clear, these learners—curious, independent and tenacious,—are earning their places in tomorrow’s workforce, today.

“AT&T has a long-standing history of innovation, and of driving technological advancements that literally change people’s lives. To do that, we have to have employees who are innovative, who are curious, and who are constantly pushing the bounds of what’s next.” —Jenifer Robertson, President – Field Operations, AT&T

The future of work is about creating a culture of continuous learning. AT&T knows this firsthand, as the success of their transformation efforts demonstrates. We are honored to be a part of these efforts, and thrilled to see our graduates joining an organization like AT&T, and making important contributions to their ongoing success.

 

To learn how Udacity for Enterprise is enabling AT&T’s digital transformation, join us for an upcoming Intro to Udacity webinar (register here) or visit us at www.udacity.com/enterprise.

Mazda Partners with Udacity to Train its Future Workforce

How Mazda is Defining the Self-Driving and Connected Car

The auto industry is going through major changes, including stricter environmental and safety regulations, new competitors from other industries, and diversification of the mobility business.

Self-driving cars are coming; it’s no longer a question if autonomous vehicles will hit the market but when they’ll become available. Yet, for Mazda, its taking autonomy and using it “to excite the drive in other ways,” rather than just building another personal shuttle bus.

Mazda is one of a few automakers without any grandiose plans for autonomous cars quite yet, but the company recently commissioned a study to better understand how drivers feel about them. It found more than two-thirds have no interest in letting an autonomous car drive them around. Mazda’s conclusion from the research is that autonomous tech should serve as more of a “The Mazda Co-Pilot Concept” and keep the human in command at all times.

For Mazda, like other automotive manufacturers, the future is being defined by the connected car. “Cars will soon start streaming data out to the cloud: data that we’ll be able to access and take action on, data that tells us in specific terms what’s going on with an individual vehicle and enable us to have personalized conversation with the vehicle owner,” says Shuji Watanabe. “We’ll have data on everything from fault codes to oil health. If we can tap into that data, it could be the start of a conversation with the customer that gives them a better overall experience of owning a Mazda.”

The company has placed a heavy emphasis on training and development of their global workforce. They are harnessing the power of training not only by increasing access to job retraining for their employees but empowering their lower-skilled workers to continuously “upskill” on the job. “Prior technology transformations in the workforce have taken place across generations. We are currently experiencing intra-generational job disruption, where the job you trained for at age 20 may not exist at age 40. So now we need to retrain workers mid-career.”

In partnership with Udacity, Mazda initiated its technical research and product development teams to participate in the Self-driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program in 2018. The Self-Driving Car Engineer (SDC) Nanodegree program is an advanced program in which employees develop an algorithm and write programs in Python and C++, and learn new frameworks like ROS and TensorFlow. Employees entering SDC should be able to write programs from scratch, and should be comfortable with both calculus and linear algebra. SDC does not require solving differential equations by hand, but does require that employees be comfortable interpreting mathematical notation and translating it into code.

Mazda has implemented a human resource development program under which all new employees of production-related divisions are trained for about three years in product development-related divisions. The purpose of this program is to train employees so they become engineers with knowledge and experience ranging from product development to production, propelling their capabilities to develop next-generation products.

“Our goal at Mazda is to ensure our employees are successful and have the right skills to be successful in their work. Our Personnel Development Partnership with Udacity is unique because it includes our commitment to provide skills training for our employees coupled with our own educational programs and developmental coaching.”

To find out more about how Udacity for Enterprise is helping Mazda and other F500 companies, go to www.udacity.com/enterprise.

 

Workforce Transformation: What It Means to Your Organization & Employees

Bridge the #AI skills gap

As companies continue to try to innovate, digitize and transform their operations, the demand for technology talent has never been higher. Training talent for the future and building a stronger workforce, in many cases, requires traditional businesses to think and act more like a nimble startup. Companies today need to reskill the workforce, inject new talent, and enable them a new way of working. Without skilled staff, there can be no digital transformation.

The reality is business has transformed and evident all around us including small changes in everything from how food is made and delivered, to how financial transactions are conducted, to how products are made, operated, and sold result in fundamental changes to how we live and work. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are poised for a monumental impact.

The New York Times estimates that there are only 10,000 people in the world right now with “the education, experience and talent needed” to develop the AI technologies that businesses are betting on to create a host of new economic opportunities. Speculative figures indicate that there are around 300,000 AI practitioners globally, but millions more roles available for people with these qualifications.

The critical issue for companies lies in the fact that AI expertise comes at a price—meaning that only those organizations with the necessary resources and clout are able to attract machine learning talent. This is reflected in booming annual salaries and startling industry recruitment efforts. There is still a pronounced shortage of AI talent. In fact, it is getting worse as more and more enterprises form their own AI groups and make AI part of their corporate strategy,” argues Gary Kazantsev, Bloomberg’s Head of Machine Learning. It’s clear that recruiting one or two AI experts—a challenge in itself—won’t be enough to make the technology an actionable success in 2018.

While skills and training initiatives play catch-up, ballooning salaries, scarce talent, and an aggressively competitive hiring landscape means that the race is already on between those who stand to gain the most from AI through the ability to adopt early on, and those who will be trailing behind in their dust. This is what the AI skills gap looks like—and right now, it’s a gap that is only widening. The growing disparity between the hiring power of companies and the present scarcity of AI talent has big implications, not only for determining the winners and losers of the AI revolution, but for the future of the workforce itself. This is no longer a ‘simple’ question of technology, but of skills, personnel, and strategy. As AI technologies become a reality, companies and their workforce must keep up—and they must do so quickly.

Read our whitepaper and find out how your company can bridge the AI talent gap. Download here.

Audi Trains Its Employees For The Future With Udacity

Audi recently published a blog post discussing its online learning initiative and partnership with Udacity

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionize the automotive industry and, more importantly, the automobile. It’s no surprise that Audi has invested in its employee “data camp” training focused on big data and artificial intelligence. Intelligent robots, digital mobility services, and autonomous cars will all rely on these skills, so Audi is staying one step ahead. The company has partnered with Udacity to help accelerate its transformation into a digital car company.

You can find the complete post here in German.

Shaping the Future of Your Workforce

The Future of Work

Future of Work

Today’s businesses are undergoing a digital transformation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is making smart homes, smart factories, and smart cities possible. Autonomous vehicles are changing the transportation industry. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are enabling predictive approaches to decision making and driving business insights.

This digital transformation that is sweeping industries by storm would not be possible without data. Data is the enabler of new technologies and solutions. Data is where important and actionable business insights are derived. In a recent Udacity webinar titled “Shaping the Future of the Workforce,” the discussion centered on how Artificial and data science are the building blocks of digital transformation and there is a massive skills gap and substantial competition for talent surrounding those skill sets.

Regardless of the industry, companies are struggling to find qualified and experienced talent to not only help make sense of all the data but to use the data to be competitive. “How is your company going to deal with all this new information – as quick as your competition? There are key data job openings you need to fill and time is not on your side,” said Andrew Cartwright, Enterprise Sales Lead at Udacity.

Breakthroughs in machine learning, supported by the huge explosion of data are fueling the rapid rate of growth and development of artificial intelligence (AI) regardless of the industry. AI is at the forefront of a tidal wave of disruption. Employees today not only lack the right set of skills, but the ones they currently have are becoming obsolete over time. And, companies want to integrate AI strategies, but the don’t have the right talent with the right skills. In fact, there are less than 10,000 professionals in the world with the skills necessary to tackle AI. “Yet, we know the talent need for AI is over one million and we currently have over 100,000 students studying AI related fields. So, one of the biggest roadblocks in the active adoption of AI across industries is the sheer scarcity of appropriately skilled professionals,” Andrew Cartwright reiterated.

In order for organizations to bridge the talent gap the webinar stressed four key areas:

  1. establish continuous workforce training,
  2. derive proficiency in real-world skills beyond videos and online tests,
  3. establish ongoing workforce assessment and calibration,
  4. generate access to top-tier talent pool, internal and external

Academic institutions, companies, and online education providers are combining their efforts to find and foster talent. Organizations can enrich their staff through internal training, while at the same time creating the right conditions to accumulate and retain new talent.

The concept of lifelong learning is accordingly transforming from a discretionary aspiration to a career necessity. No longer is it a supplemental luxury to learn new skills, and no longer is learning new skills something you do only when you’re pursuing a significant career change. Being relevant, competitive, and in-demand in today’s fast-moving world requires an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning regardless of your role or career path.

At Udacity, we are committed to very similar objectives and strategies. Our industry partnerships are critical to the success of our approach, both in terms of establishing “a true 21st century curriculum,” and for developing a “clearer view on future skills and employee needs.” Our emphasis on learn-by-doing is fueled by our desire to help see every employee we teach be in-demand.

To watch the replay of the webinar, please go here. To learn more about our Enterprise offerings, you can visit: https://www.udacity.com/enterprise

 

The Talent Right In Front of You

When you invest in the education of your employees, you give your company the gift of a long-term solution to your talent needs

(Originally posted on blog.udacity.com. Written by Christopher Watkins)

The following quote has been variously attributed to everyone from Lao Tzu to Maimonides to Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie:

“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”

Given its ubiquity throughout modern history, it’s clearly a resonant message, and part of its appeal has to do with its broad applicability—it’s germane to so many different use cases.

The quote is generally interpreted as a lesson about self-sufficiency, but it’s also sage advice when thinking about short-term “band-aids” vs. long-term solutions. Why solve something for a day, only to have the same problem again tomorrow? Why not embrace a long-term solution that eliminates the problem once and for all?

Hiring managers and recruiters confront this issue every day. After all, hiring is essentially an act of problem-solving—a company has a need, and the right hiring decision will solve for it. But what IS the right hiring decision? If you’re a company in need of talent, the solution is often right in front of you!

Let’s take the example of a company website.

Company X is a small company. They have a website, but it’s not very good, and it’s becoming a problem. They need a new site, but no one internally has the skills to do the work. What should Company X do? One solution is to hire someone from outside their organization to do the work. In theory, this makes sense, because professionals will know what to do, and how to do it. The challenges with this approach, however, are multi-fold. One obvious issue, is that there’s no real way to know whether the outside entity will do a good job. But the bigger question is, how can you know whether they’ll “get” you? A website isn’t just functional. It’s a symbol of brand identity. It communicates values as much as it provides services. So you want to work with someone who understands who you are as a company. Finding an outside entity that is both reliable, and that understands your brand, is difficult, and even if you DO find someone, they’re not yours for keeps. They do the work, then they’re off to the next client.

Hiring an outside entity often results in a “fed for a day” solution. If all goes well, you’ll get your new site, but as your company expands and evolves, you’ll be hungry again soon.

So what’s the alternative?

If you’re in a Company X kind of a situation, take a moment to look around you. What do you see? Chances are, what you see are dedicated, reliable, hardworking individuals who are committed to your company, and who most definitely “get” you. But at first glance, you might not be seeing the people who can build your new site.

Or are you?

Here at Udacity, we think you are! We think there are people at your company right now, who are just a Nanodegree program away from giving you exactly what you need. Don’t believe us? Poll your employees today. Find out whether someone at your company harbors an interest in web development. Chances are, there’s someone who’d jump at this kind of opportunity.

So, here’s a suggestion for companies in need of talent. Instead of investing in a one-time, short-term approach, invest in a Nanodegree program on behalf of one or more of your employees instead, and give your company the gift of a long-term solution to your talent needs.

Employees, this is an action item for you as well. If you’ve got a passion for something, and you think pursuing your passion can help your company, speak up! That’s what Kat Halo did. Her company hired someone else to do their marketing, but Kat knew she could do a better job. She took it upon herself to learn digital marketing with Udacity, and now, she’s doing marketing for her company!

There are a great many tangible benefits to hiring from within. A recent CareerBuilder article affirms that you’ll save money and see better performance, and Adam Foroughi, writing for Entrepreneur, notes the following:

  1. Motivated employees work harder.
  2. Opportunity, happy people = higher retention.
  3. Internal hires adapt better to new roles.

And finally, as noted in a recent article from Inc., “Wharton research shows that external hires cost18 to 20 percent more than those  promoted from within.”

In a world marked by rapid technological advancement, more and more companies all across the hiring landscape are embracing digital transformation initiatives, and this is leading them to look anew at the talent within their own ranks. At Udacity, our Enterprise team works directly with hundreds of different companies who are investing in their employees by proactively offering opportunities to reskill and upskill through our Nanodegree programs. If you’re not yet investing in the talent you already have, now’s a really good time to consider doing so!

Let’s now return to our quote:

“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”

The key lesson here lies in the distinction between “a day” and “a lifetime.” As a company, when it comes to making hiring decisions, you want to invest in a long-term solution that works for the long term, and that’s what investing in the development of existing employees is all about. When you need talent, you often need look no further than the people right in front of you.

Upskill Your Employees Instead of Hiring

UpSkill Your Employees Instead of Hiring

Solving problems and answering questions through data analysis is quickly becoming the norm in today’s data-driven world. As real-world experiments become ubiquitous in modern business, data scientists have become the beating heart of the big data economy. It’s not just that they are designing new systems; they are going to bat for new sources of data and new ways to use that data.

Yet, with the ever-increasing demand for skills, the talent gap has widened. In a recent annual survey of employers, Deloitte and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists (ISCEBS) remarked, “The shortage of qualified talent and the skills gap has emerged as the biggest challenge facing employers over the next three years.”

This skills gap continues to widen, despite the available pool of domestic and H1B job applicants. How can employers expect to fill their needs for such capabilities in emerging technologies?

More and more smart companies are training their existing employees to acquire the skills they need in the technologies and disciplines that are critical to their evolving business objectives.

Use training strategically to fill skills gaps

As technologies rapidly evolve and corporate initiatives change, talent development is proving to be a faster and more cost-effective solution than talent acquisition. “Upskilling”—investing in the skills of front-line workers—has upfront costs, but it can save employers time and money in the long run. When employees are always learning, it has the effect of reducing turnover and improving employee retention, helping a company keep pace with or outdo its competition. Upskilling also allows companies to retain employees who fit within the company culture; it’s much less risky than bringing in someone new.

And while upskilling can be used in many circumstances, it can have big returns if a company:

  • Is looking to find more efficient processes;
  • Finds that machine learning, big data, and data science are playing an increasingly important role in the workplace;
  • Is in an industry that is under tough competitive pressure or that evolves quickly;
  • Wants to find new ways of doing business;
  • Is looking to offer new products and services

Re-Skilling Existing Employees

Here at Udacity, we’ve developed a solution for Enterprises that enables them to assess their workforce, understand their skills gaps and deploy transformational, hands-on and cutting edge curriculum personalized to their employees.  The costs of re-skilling employees far outweigh recruiting, training and ramping a new employee.

In addition to saving time and money, reskilling employees maintains established corporate culture, enables uninterrupted employee productivity, and provides other benefits to your organization, including:

  • Improved employee engagement and retention by building self-esteem with a culture of higher promotion potential and refreshingly novel or challenging responsibilities.
  • Better company brand reputation (on employer review sites like Glassdoor.com) as a place for career development and longevity for future candidates.
  • Reduced dependency on outside consultants or vendors for necessary skill sets.

As Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, professed, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Find out how much your organization can save using Udacity for Enterprise to transform your workforce.

Enabling companies to bridge the Artificial Intelligence gap with Nanodegree programs

Emerging areas, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, require special skill sets in high demand. Beyond traditional four-year degrees and time-intensive training programs, the alternative paths to developing those skills are limited. The learning required is not something that can be accomplished through a Netflix or YouTube-style exploration of a catalog of videos. Training in machine learning or AI requires deeper, more structured learning and commitment.

As AI moves beyond proof-of-concept and sandbox implementation, companies are looking to recruit top machine learning talent, cultivate AI skills across their workforce, and begin to use this amazing set of technologies for incredible outcomes. There’s just one problem. There’s still not enough AI experts out there to make this a reality – and a huge AI skills gap is opening up as a result. Continue reading “Enabling companies to bridge the Artificial Intelligence gap with Nanodegree programs”

Udacity Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board

Udacity Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board

AI Advisory Board

As we look forward into a future we know will be shaped by the transformational impact of artificial intelligence and data technologies, we can clearly see the birth of a new knowledge ecosystem within which education, industry, and technology form a powerful partnership. That these three arenas will be interrelated goes without saying, but how they inform one another, and how these relationships take shape and evolve, remain open questions.

At Udacity, we recognize the singular role we occupy, existing as we do at the crossroads where education, industry, and technology meet. We are a learning provider that teaches AI and data skills, in partnership with industry, and as such, we see a unique opportunity—and feel a special obligation—to both facilitate and contribute to the global conversation around critical issues we face as we move into our AI and data-powered future.

We are very excited to have recently formed an Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board with the expressed goal of bringing together leading experts in the field to consider the opportunities that lay ahead, to address the challenges we face, and to answer the questions we must answer.

We believe that through combining experiences and skills, sharing insights and ideas, and producing solutions and strategies, we can lay out a plan for the future that is beneficial to all—a plan that nurtures and supports emerging generations of learners to master artificial intelligence and data skills, encourages and incentivizes industry to adopt beneficial AI and data practices, and guarantees a pipeline of highly skilled individuals who are committed to social good ideals, and the ethical adoption and implementation of transformational technologies.

Among the experts who have joined our board is Armen Pischdotchian, the Academic Tech Mentor at IBM. In his role, he mentors university faculty and students, and conducts enablement sessions—both in and outside of the company—pertaining to the IBM Watson Solution offerings. Here is Armen on why he wanted to be a part of the board:

“I strongly believe that the Advisory board, at its core, is addressing a gap that needs to be erased, and that is the space between industry and education. Udacity has the unique pedigree of listening to the needs of tech giants and startups and asking the question, what does your candidate need to be proficient so the firm will succeed?”

Armen is joined by an incredible roster of individuals who come to us from leading organizations such as Amazon, Google, NVIDIA, and more. It is with both gratitude and excitement that we introduce the inaugural members of the Udacity Artificial Intelligence and Data Industry Advisory Board:

  • Armen Pischdotchian, Academic Tech Mentor, IBM
  • Brad Klingenberg, VP of Data Science, Stitch Fix
  • Bryan Catanzaro, VP of Applied Deep Learning Research, NVIDIA
  • Cyrus Vahid, Principal Deep Learning Solutions Architect, Amazon
  • Dan Becker, Head of Kaggle Learn
  • Derek Steer, CEO, Mode
  • Jeff Feng, Product Lead, Data, Airbnb
  • Joe Spisak, Product Manager – Artificial Intelligence at Facebook
  • Jon Francis, VP of Customer Marketing Analytics & Optimization, Starbucks
  • Josh Gordon, Developer Advocate for TensorFlow, Google
  • Mike Tamir, Head of Data Science Uber ATG & Data Science Faculty member at University of California at Berkeley
  • Warren Barkley, GM, AI and Research, Microsoft

While each of these individuals brings to the board a wholly unique set of experiences and insights, they are united by a shared passion for learning, and for building a better future through the beneficial use of transformational technologies.

Our mission is to provide companies and their employees with meaningful opportunities to master valuable and in-demand skills. Jeff Feng is the Product Lead for Data at Airbnb, where he leads a team building machine learning infrastructure, data infrastructure, data visualization tools, and their experimentation platform. Here is Jeff on the passion that drives his participation:

“Shaping how people and machines make decisions with data is one of the most critical skills needed in the workforce over the next decade. Thus, providing learners with the practical knowledge needed to work with data is an area I am hugely passionate about.”

We look very forward to sharing more updates about the work of the board, and to furthering our engagement with the important issues and incredible opportunities before us. As we advance our efforts, we are thankful above all else to our board members for their spirit of generosity and goodwill, and for their commitment to the true ideals of education. Josh Gordon, Developer Advocate at Google, put it both perfectly and simply when he stated the following:

“Good teachers are hard to find. I’m grateful for those who helped me out over the years, and it’s always been important to me to give back.”

We are grateful to the members of the advisory board, and we are excited to transfer insights gleaned from their leadership to you, our students, for it is who are the emerging leaders that will define the future we are eagerly building towards.

For more information about how Udacity for Enterprise is helping companies transform their workforce, click here.