Amazon to offer free ‘AI Ready’ courses as competition with Microsoft, OpenAI heats up

Amazon announced free courses to teach workers skills around artificial intelligence as the tech behemoth competes for talent with rivals including Microsoft and OpenAI.

Dubbed “AI Ready,” the initiative includes eight “free AI and generative AI courses,” which Amazon hopes will teach as many as 2 million people by 2025 about the increasingly ubiquitous tech, the company said in an announcement shared Monday.

Courses are geared either towards business and nontechnical audiences or professional developers, covering topics such as “introduction to generative artificial intelligence,” “foundations of prompt engineering” and “low-code machine learnings on AWS,” Amazon’s cloud-computing company, Amazon Web Services.

In a bid to lure learners, Amazon’s announcement on AI Ready cites an AWS study that found that 73% of employers are prioritizing hiring AI-skilled talent — and are willing to pay up to 47% more in salaries for workers trained in this area.

“If we are going to unlock the full potential of AI to tackle the world’s most challenging problems, we need to make AI education accessible to anyone with a desire to learn,” Amazon stated.

Amazon announced “AI Ready” on Monday, eight free courses designed to teach workers about artificial intelligence.

Jenni Troutman, Director of Products and Services, AWS Training and Certification told The Post: “At AWS, we believe that skills training and certification have the power to transform organizations and change people’s careers and lives.”

“AI Ready is an extension of our focus to make AI and ML skills training and education accessible to everyone, and we’re proud to offer new free courses and programs, and scholarships to anyone with a desire to learn,” Troutman said.

The launch of AI Ready reflects the changing corporate landscape, which has been so impacted by AI that there have been instances where humans who were outperformed by AI-backed tech were fired from their jobs.

Thus, it’s expected that many of the changes brought about by AI are going to require workers to learn new skills or undergo additional training in order to keep up.

At the moment, highly-skilled AI talent is hard to come by — so much so that top tech firms are padding salaries and benefits in a move to retain their workers in a competitive labor market.

In February, Amazon doubled its base pay limit for corporate employees to $350,000.

At the time, the company described contending with a “particularly competitive labor market.”

AI Ready courses are geared either towards business and nontechnical audiences or developer and technical audiences.

Microsoft also said earlier this year that it would “nearly double” its budget for employee pay as part of its retention efforts.

The Seattle-based tech giant also increased the range of its stock-based compensation by at least 25%.

“This increased investment in our worldwide compensation reflects the ongoing commitment we have to providing a highly competitive experience for our employees,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to The Post at the time.

A report released last week revealed that OpenAI followed suit, and the ChatGPT-creator’s recruiting team has been offering hefty pay packages worth up to $10 million in an effort to lure top AI talent away from Google.

OpenAI’s recruiting team has been pitching some of Google’s best AI talent ahead of a planned employee share sale that will boost OpenAI’s valuation above $80 billion, according to a report.

The employees are being told that they can lock in packages at the firm’s current valuation of approximately $27 billion and see a surge in value when the share sale closes.

The top deals could be worth between $5 million and $10 million, The Information reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Amazon debuted AI Ready at a time when the competition for talent skilled in AI has been heating up. It was revealed last week that OpenAI has been offering pay packages worth up to $10 million to lure talent away from Google.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Employee retention has evidently weighed more on these lucrative firms than inflation, which has had a chokehold on the US economy since last June, when it peaked at 9.1%.

So far, Google “does not appear to be matching the offers,” one source told the outlet, though the company has been stepping up its AI efforts elsewhere.

Last week, Reuters reported that Google — which operates rival AI chatbot Bard — was in talks to pour “hundreds of millions of dollars” into Character.AI, an AI bot startup developed by two former Google employees.