Learning communities

AI will have a major impact in the near future in a wide range of sectors and on the people who work there. It is developing at lightning speed. Demand for AI skills is growing so quickly that the outflow from the regular education sector cannot keep up. Even for professionals who are already in work, the impact of AI means they need to undergo substantial and regular training. That is why the NL AIC and AiNed have taken the initiative by setting up nationwide Learning Communities for AI to satisfy the demand for staff with AI expertise and affinity at all levels. Only then can we keep making the most of the social and economic opportunities for the Netherlands.

What is the problem?

New knowledge from innovation and research is not being converted into real-world applications quickly enough. There is also insufficient training capacity, leading to capped numbers of students being accepted at various institutions, which is threatening to make growth stagnate – growth that is already limited. There is also a mismatch between supply and demand: the outflow from the regular education sector cannot keep up with the growing demand, causing growing shortages. There also is no systemic supply of further training. Informal learning is particularly important in e.g. SMEs, where alternative forms of gaining knowledge (such as informal learning on the job) matter a great deal.

The commercial sector sees the lack of talented individuals as the key barrier to further growth of their AI activities. Companies, public organisations and professionals themselves are also not investing enough in AI education and training and its application.

There is huge potential for the use of AI in the areas where it is applied. But it is the sectors outside IT where there is insufficient knowledge and experience. There is also not enough of the cooperation that is needed if the potential is to be utilised.

There is strongly increasing demand for AI skills in companies and public organisations. In the Netherlands, that demand has increased by a factor of five in recent years. This includes both expert-level staff and people who can use their skills in the application areas.

Development of Learning Communities

To turn this trend around, action will be taken on several fronts. Because it is a key technology and a system technology, AI also demands different perspectives to come together in business challenges. Learning from each other’s experiences across sectors is also essential for the major challenges within society. The newest insights into ‘learning’, as defined by the nationwide Knowledge Base working group, show that innovating, working and learning must be organised as a closely-knit unit if they are to achieve the maximum effect. That will be done through Learning Communities, in line with the methodology that the key sectors defined in their joint approach in the Human Capital Key Sectors Roadmap. These communities are also embedded in a wider environment of various higher education courses, which are fed with the experiences and examples from these communities.

Within those Learning Communities, companies, education institutions and innovation labs are working closely together to make new AI applications usable in practice at those organisations and to train the people pragmatically.

Initiatives for Learning Communities can be taken by all parties – not only from the education sector but also by innovation labs or the cooperating companies.

Cooperating in the region and a kick-start

There are already many important regional cooperation structures. Examples include the Innovation Labs, Centres of Expertise, Centres for Innovative Professionalism, research groups and practice-oriented teacher teams. There are also training centres and training tools to support SMEs, in the region in particular. The Learning Communities build upon these. The role and expertise of the regional AI hubs are also used gratefully. They monitor the key focus areas (AI topics, AI areas of application, etc.) in their region, they know the parties and their goals and they can bring supply and demand together.

Getting started

In 2022, we want to accelerate the programme approach that lets the parties give shape to the organised realisation of the Learning Communities for AI within the AI ecosystem. How fast and how ambitious this programme approach will be is largely determined by financial capacity, but there is no doubt about how useful and necessary the approach is. Very soon we will supplement our information with some attractive examples of Learning Communities that will help start up and expand the jointly held ambitions.

Want to know more?

Read the leaflet (in Dutch) about Learning Communities or contact us.

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