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Deloitte AI Academy: A training ground for AI talent

The global consulting giant's new AI Academy will provide supplemental education that closes the gap between the knowledge of AI tools and domain experiences and applications.

Deloitte's new AI Academy aims to provide supplemental education to new hires and veteran employees.

Unlike the Deloitte AI Institute, the academy is not open to the public, but with more than 334,000 employees, the giant consulting firm is one of the world's biggest private companies.

The academy will provide AI professionals tools they can use to bridge the gap between knowing how to use AI tools and technologies and domain experiences such as business process, strategy and applications of problems.

"When you allow them to learn all of those things in the context of AI, then they are able to go out and serve all of our clients much more effectively," said Irfan Saif, principal and chief strategy officer for Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory. "That's a critical piece that we believe is a critical gap in the marketplace that we are bridging."

"We're truly taking on the trappings of a university," said Nitin Mittal, U.S. AI co-leader and principal at Deloitte Consulting. "We would be the supplemental educator and help bridge the talent gap between the fundamentals that you learn, and how you actually apply it in a real-world situation and make it relevant for our clients and our marketplace."

Companies like Deloitte play an important role in helping their clients incorporate new technologies into their infrastructure, said Dan Miller, founder and lead analyst at Opus Research.

Miller added that while there's a demonstrated need for employees who are conversant in the practical aspects of machine learning and natural language processing, many AI vendors and providers are undertaking similar initiatives to educate customers so that they can learn the practical aspects of AI themselves.

That's a critical piece that we believe is a critical gap in the marketplace that we are bridging.
Irfan SaifPrincipal and chief strategy officer, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

"That has kind of greater appeal to organizations that are more cost-conscious," Miller said.

However, some of the topics Deloitte plans to offer in the program, such as trustworthy AI (the application of AI ethically), how to design for AI systems, and MLOps, give extra value to the academy.

As concerns of privacy and trustworthiness grow in the AI industry, "Deloitte's efforts may be a movement to politely do the right thing," Miller said.

He adds that this could be Deloitte's way of building "a community of developers that are aware of what it takes to build trust."

This will ultimately be valuable to enterprises and could differentiate Deloitte from some of its competitors, he said.

While other programs offer AI training and AI skill developments, the Deloitte's AI Academy is not a self-paced learning curriculum or an online course, according to Mittal.

The first group of attendees will start on Oct. 4 in India. Deloitte hopes to launch the program in the United States in 2022, with the goal of training up to 10,000 professionals across the U.S. and other markets in the next four years.

Participants can attend the academy for a minimum of eight weeks, with the option of extending it through a series of electives. During the program, students will also participate in a series of practical applications, including case studies.

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