Tuesday, 25 June 2024

AVPN launches $15M AI fund with Google.org, ADB support

5 min read

AVPN, one of the largest network of social investors in Asia, announced the launch of the AI Opportunity Fund: Asia Pacific, with the support of Google.org and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The $15-million fund is a three-year programme to equip Asia’s workforce with essential artificial intelligence (AI) knowledge and tools required for the evolving work landscape, thereby ensuring that jobs and roles presented by AI are accessible to more people in the region, specifically those from underserved communities. The fund will be available through an open call to identify and select the non-profit organisations, social enterprises, and workforce associations in Asia Pacific which meaningfully reach the workers who will be most impacted by the workforce transitions caused by AI. Selected organisations will receive comprehensive support, including guidance, financial support and tailored AI training based on foundational AI courses designed by Google and its external partners.

Scott Beaumont, president of Google Asia Pacific said: “AI presents tremendous opportunities for the Asia Pacific region, but it's crucial to equip people with the skills needed to thrive. This new AI Opportunity Fund in Asia Pacific will help to empower underserved communities and ensure everyone benefits from the transformative power of AI.”

Employers in Asia Pacific are confident in AI's potential to boost productivity. Over the next five years, 93% expect to use generative AI tools, with some even offering salary bumps of up to 44% for workers with AI skills. While AI is perceived positively by employees, 16% of those surveyed by PwC believed AI could replace their jobs. The work uncertainty compounds for those already disadvantaged, where a third of the population does not use the internet and where high job informality persists.

Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO of AVPN, said: “Building an AI-ready workforce is an essential social mandate for businesses and governments, and one that can unlock Asia’s full workforce potential, considering this region will have 165 million working-age people by 2030. There is urgency for such an enablement initiative, as the new world work realities unfold, and we start to see the socioeconomic impact of AI work transition on workers who have limited support to adapt and catch up. AVPN is optimistic about leveraging the knowledge and reach of impact organisations that are already actively working on the ground to bridge the gaps for an AI workplace just transition, and to ensure that the benefits of AI work opportunities reach more of our workers.”

Jason Rush, principal regional cooperation specialist at ADB said: “Asia’s evolving work landscape, shaped by the increasing influence of AI, highlights the pressing need to bridge critical skills and knowledge gaps in the underserved communities. The AI Opportunity Fund: Asia Pacific will support organisations to upskill and reskill workers, ensuring they can access and benefit from the evolving opportunities in the age of AI.”

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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