AVPN, the largest network of social investors based in Singapore, has announced the launch of the $15 million Artificial Intelligence (AI) Opportunity Fund: Asia-Pacific, with the support of Google.org and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

AVPN said in a statement on Monday that the fund is a three-year program to equip Asia’s workforce with essential 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 organizations, 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 organizations will receive comprehensive support, including guidance, financial support and tailored AI training based on foundational AI courses designed by Google and its external partners.

“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,” said Scott Beaumont, President of Google Asia-Pacific.

It is noted that employers in Asia-Pacific are confident in AI’s potential to boost productivity.

Over the next five years, 93 percent expect to use generative AI tools, with some even offering salary bumps of up to 44 percent for workers with AI skills.

While AI is perceived positively by employees, 16 percent 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.

“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,” said Naina Subberwal Batra, Chief Executive Officer of AVPN.

According to her, AVPN is optimistic about leveraging the knowledge and reach of impact organizations 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, ADB, said that 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 organizations to upskill and reskill workers, ensuring they can access and benefit from the evolving opportunities in the age of AI,” he added.

AVPN is the largest network of social investors in Asia, comprising over 600 funders and resource providers across 33 markets.

The firm’s mission is to increase the flow and effectiveness of financial, human, and intellectual capital in Asia by enabling members to channel resources towards impact.

As an ecosystem builder, AVPN enables its members to connect, learn, act, and lead across key pillars and improve the effectiveness of deployed capital, bringing local field needs, regional expertise, and policy insights to the forefront.

Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, product donations and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone.

The organization engages nonprofits, social enterprises and civic entities who make a significant impact on the communities they serve, and whose work has the potential to produce scalable, meaningful change.

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