Oxford partners Ripple to solve tech skills gap

The Oxford Foundry has announced plans to tackle the growing technology skills gap in the UK via a partnership with blockchain technology provider Ripple and its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI).

Up to 1,000 University of Oxford students will be given the opportunity to gain new skills in blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning across different industries, as well as the opportunity to learn how to code in Python and build smart contracts.

The Tech Series will be delivered through the Foundry’s experiential learning model. Mentors, academics and student experts, drawn from Oxford’s networks will facilitate workshops and bootcamps through peer-to-peer learning and the Zone of Proximal Development. Students are encouraged to work across disciplines and collaborate with people they wouldn’t normally work with to generate ideas and build solutions.

The series will also deliver a Tech Talent Networking Series to connect exceptional student talent with companies that are leading in blockchain and AI, and convene a blockchain thought-leadership group to focus on emerging topics and publish expertise.

The Foundry was set up by the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School, with founding donors Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and philanthropist Mohamed Amersi.

Ana Bakshi, director of the Oxford Foundry, said: “Since 2014 the number of AI job postings has increased by 485 per cent and a quarter of companies highlight that a lack of available AI talent is a primary inhibitor in their efforts to adopt AI.

“There are 2.4 million students studying at universities in the UK and we have a responsibility as a university to nurture our future global workforce and give them the skills and experience they need to succeed.”

Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of global operations at Ripple, said: “Ripple’s UBRI was founded to support university-level research and innovation in blockchain around the world.

“Today, a key focus of the initiative is to address the blockchain skills gap as the need for talent in this emerging technology category continues to grow,” he continued. “In fact, an earlier study found that 89 per cent of UK employers expect a shortage of skilled technology professionals in the next year – and we believe academia plays a key role in preparing the next generation of students through courses, workshops and activations related to blockchain and financial technology.”

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