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Amazon report says schools need Artificial Intelligence strategy

New research from Amazon reveals a need to tackle the STEM skills gap in schools in the North East to help meet future demand for jobs in computer science and AI.

The results from secondary school teachers in the North East, also found that teaching Artificial Intelligence skills in secondary schools could help to fill increasing demand for computer science and AI related roles, underpinning billions in economic output for the UK economy.

The need to boost AI learning in schools in the North East is supported by new YouGov research –commissioned by Amazon – among secondary school teachers and parents. The research shows:

Seventy per cent of secondary school teachers surveyed in the North East agree that AI should be part of their school’s syllabus, while 82% of teachers in the North East surveyed believe access to free AI and computer science learning resources linked with the curriculum would help students better engage in computer science.

Among teachers surveyed in the North East, 50% have limited access to computer science resources, rising to 80% when focused exclusively on AI.

While two thirds of secondary school teachers n the North East believe that education in computer science better prepares students for future careers in all sectors, more than one in three say AI learning is only part of an opt-in or extra paid-for club and not part of the syllabus.

Almost three quarters of those teachers say children don’t have enough information to understand future career opportunities that involve computer science and AI, and the majority say that without increased STEM education and resources, there will be long-term skill gaps

The research comes as Amazon launches the inaugural Alexa Young Innovator Challenge in the region, an educational programme for secondary school pupils to create an Alexa Skill to promote social good in their community.

Schools will have the chance to win prizes, including £2,500 worth of tech products for the winner and a £2,500 donation to their school.

“AI is the world’s fastest growing technology and the UK is striving to be among the world’s leaders in this field, with 56% of businesses planning to increase investment in AI technologies within the next three years,” said Lauren Kisser, Technology Director at Amazon.

“Through the Challenge, we hope to not only build confidence in students’ ability to understand and control this incredible technology but also inspire young minds, regardless of their background, to realise their potential as creators, thinkers and builders of the future; using AI to create innovative solutions to real world problems.”

Dr Ian Pearson, who worked on the Alexa Challenge, said: “There is no doubt that AI will play a vital role in our future, but it’s far more than just the development of the hardware – we need people at every stage of the process to make real progress. There is a real misconception around developing technologies, and almost half of students surveyed said they don’t understand what jobs they can do in the future that involve AI so we hope we can inspire them to consider roles within technology and computer science.”

The future world of work is being showcased at Amazon’s Jobs Fair of the Future, hosted at its headquarters in central London.


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