Education and Training
The U.S. worker is a vital national asset. Advances in technology are changing the nature of work, which is presenting both opportunities and challenges for the worker. Rapid progress in the development of AI technologies has many potential benefits, including the creation of new industries and occupations, increased opportunities for innovation, and increased productivity. AI is helping to automate routine and repetitive tasks, giving workers opportunities to focus on more creative work and enabling them to accomplish tasks more safely, effectively, and efficiently. At the same time, tasks in many occupations are changing because of AI. AI and automation technologies have caused concerns about the possibility of lost jobs, or the mismatch between available occupations and the skills of the workforce. And, there is a need to increase the diversity of the AI workforce and to improve the accessibility of AI education for all.
To ensure that U.S. workers are prepared for current and future jobs, increased attention is needed at all stages of education, training, and workforce development. The Nation must build up more effective education, training, and reskilling pipelines. As automation and AI become more prevalent, the U.S. workforce and industry must embrace lifelong learning as the way of the future.
In December 2018, the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) released the Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan, which outlines the goals for American STEM education. These goals include building a strong foundation of STEM literacy, increasing diversity in STEM careers, and preparing the STEM workforce of the future. In September 2017, a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Education emphasized STEM education, with the goal of devoting at least $200 million in grant funds per year to the promotion of high-quality computer science and STEM education. Addressing both shortages in STEM teachers at all levels and expanding access to computer science and STEM education, CoSTEM coordinates and executes policy for STEM education.
Fellowship and Scholarship Programs
The Nation needs highly-skilled workers in industry and academia who can contribute to the R&D advances that create the AI of the future. Currently, the United States has an AI talent gap that requires urgent attention. The National AI Initiative Act calls for agencies to prioritize fellowship and training programs to help American workers gain AI-relevant skills through skills programs, fellowships, and education in computer science and other growing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.
To ensure the Nation has highly-skilled experts who can advance the AI technologies of the future, Federal R&D agencies are supporting many fellowship and scholarship programs for graduate and postdoctoral studies in AI, including:
- NSF: The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
- NIST: NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateships Program
- NIST: Graduate Student Measurement Science and Engineering (GMSE) Fellowship Program
- NIST: Professional Research Experience Program (PREP)
- DoD: National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship
- DOE: Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
- NASA: STEM Engagement
- State: Jefferson Science Fellows program
- USDA/NIFA: Education and Workforce Development program
- USDA/NIFA: National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program
- USDA/NIFA: Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program
- VA: Big-Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP)
R&D for the Future of Work
credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
NSF’s Initiative on the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier is providing a deeper understanding of the changing landscape of jobs and work
In addition to the immediate training and education need is the importance of looking forward to better understand the changing landscape of jobs and work. NSF is responding to this need by focusing R&D on convergent research on The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier. This research is helping provide a better understanding of the human-technology partnership and the emerging socio-technological landscape, create new technologies to augment human performance, and foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology.
To better understand the current and future impact of AI on the U.S. workforce, the National AI Initiative Act calls for NSF to initiate a new study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to explore the workforce impacts across sectors caused by the increased adoption of AI and adoption. The study will further investigate the workforce needs and employment opportunities generated by the increased adoption of AI across sectors, research gaps and data needed to better understand these areas, and recommendations to address these challenges and opportunities.
Computing Classroom Resources
As noted in the Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan, the transformation of society due to digital devices and the internet is leading to the requirement for everyone to have a basic level of understanding of these technologies, or “digital literacy”. Effectively using computers or computational tools for activities such as website creation, video editing, three-dimensional printing, or operating manufacturing control systems requires a somewhat higher level of skill, or “computational literacy”.
To help teachers, their students, and students’ families develop digital and computational literacy, the National Science Foundation has compiled a collection of lessons and web resources. These resources include tools that help students learn about computational science programs and opportunities, information about young people’s interaction with digital media, resources for computer science students at the high school and college levels, and descriptions of NSF programs and news in a format that is appealing to high school age students. These and other Federally-funded programs and activities are helping to encourage the integration of computational thinking principles across all disciplines and activities.