Mazda Partners with Udacity to Train its Future Workforce

How Mazda is Defining the Self-Driving and Connected Car

The auto industry is going through major changes, including stricter environmental and safety regulations, new competitors from other industries, and diversification of the mobility business.

Self-driving cars are coming; it’s no longer a question if autonomous vehicles will hit the market but when they’ll become available. Yet, for Mazda, its taking autonomy and using it “to excite the drive in other ways,” rather than just building another personal shuttle bus.

Mazda is one of a few automakers without any grandiose plans for autonomous cars quite yet, but the company recently commissioned a study to better understand how drivers feel about them. It found more than two-thirds have no interest in letting an autonomous car drive them around. Mazda’s conclusion from the research is that autonomous tech should serve as more of a “The Mazda Co-Pilot Concept” and keep the human in command at all times.

For Mazda, like other automotive manufacturers, the future is being defined by the connected car. “Cars will soon start streaming data out to the cloud: data that we’ll be able to access and take action on, data that tells us in specific terms what’s going on with an individual vehicle and enable us to have personalized conversation with the vehicle owner,” says Shuji Watanabe. “We’ll have data on everything from fault codes to oil health. If we can tap into that data, it could be the start of a conversation with the customer that gives them a better overall experience of owning a Mazda.”

The company has placed a heavy emphasis on training and development of their global workforce. They are harnessing the power of training not only by increasing access to job retraining for their employees but empowering their lower-skilled workers to continuously “upskill” on the job. “Prior technology transformations in the workforce have taken place across generations. We are currently experiencing intra-generational job disruption, where the job you trained for at age 20 may not exist at age 40. So now we need to retrain workers mid-career.”

In partnership with Udacity, Mazda initiated its technical research and product development teams to participate in the Self-driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program in 2018. The Self-Driving Car Engineer (SDC) Nanodegree program is an advanced program in which employees develop an algorithm and write programs in Python and C++, and learn new frameworks like ROS and TensorFlow. Employees entering SDC should be able to write programs from scratch, and should be comfortable with both calculus and linear algebra. SDC does not require solving differential equations by hand, but does require that employees be comfortable interpreting mathematical notation and translating it into code.

Mazda has implemented a human resource development program under which all new employees of production-related divisions are trained for about three years in product development-related divisions. The purpose of this program is to train employees so they become engineers with knowledge and experience ranging from product development to production, propelling their capabilities to develop next-generation products.

“Our goal at Mazda is to ensure our employees are successful and have the right skills to be successful in their work. Our Personnel Development Partnership with Udacity is unique because it includes our commitment to provide skills training for our employees coupled with our own educational programs and developmental coaching.”

To find out more about how Udacity for Enterprise is helping Mazda and other F500 companies, go to www.udacity.com/enterprise.

 

Workforce Transformation: What It Means to Your Organization & Employees

Bridge the #AI skills gap

As companies continue to try to innovate, digitize and transform their operations, the demand for technology talent has never been higher. Training talent for the future and building a stronger workforce, in many cases, requires traditional businesses to think and act more like a nimble startup. Companies today need to reskill the workforce, inject new talent, and enable them a new way of working. Without skilled staff, there can be no digital transformation.

The reality is business has transformed and evident all around us including small changes in everything from how food is made and delivered, to how financial transactions are conducted, to how products are made, operated, and sold result in fundamental changes to how we live and work. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are poised for a monumental impact.

The New York Times estimates that there are only 10,000 people in the world right now with “the education, experience and talent needed” to develop the AI technologies that businesses are betting on to create a host of new economic opportunities. Speculative figures indicate that there are around 300,000 AI practitioners globally, but millions more roles available for people with these qualifications.

The critical issue for companies lies in the fact that AI expertise comes at a price—meaning that only those organizations with the necessary resources and clout are able to attract machine learning talent. This is reflected in booming annual salaries and startling industry recruitment efforts. There is still a pronounced shortage of AI talent. In fact, it is getting worse as more and more enterprises form their own AI groups and make AI part of their corporate strategy,” argues Gary Kazantsev, Bloomberg’s Head of Machine Learning. It’s clear that recruiting one or two AI experts—a challenge in itself—won’t be enough to make the technology an actionable success in 2018.

While skills and training initiatives play catch-up, ballooning salaries, scarce talent, and an aggressively competitive hiring landscape means that the race is already on between those who stand to gain the most from AI through the ability to adopt early on, and those who will be trailing behind in their dust. This is what the AI skills gap looks like—and right now, it’s a gap that is only widening. The growing disparity between the hiring power of companies and the present scarcity of AI talent has big implications, not only for determining the winners and losers of the AI revolution, but for the future of the workforce itself. This is no longer a ‘simple’ question of technology, but of skills, personnel, and strategy. As AI technologies become a reality, companies and their workforce must keep up—and they must do so quickly.

Read our whitepaper and find out how your company can bridge the AI talent gap. Download here.

Rethinking How You Hire? Some Companies Are Changing the Game Altogether

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There was a time when a college degree was virtually the sole measure of job-readiness. That time is gone. There are simply too many other, more effective ways to find and vet crucial talent. That’s not to say a college degree can’t be a key factor; it can. But in today’s hiring environment, the need for specific skillsets is too intense, the pace of change too rapid, the competition too fierce. Companies often need truly rarefied talent, and they’re realizing a college degree is no longer the best determinant of suitability. Agility and flexibility are vital, real-world experience, critical. There is a genuine need to reevaluate hiring practices, and the most innovative companies are already doing so.

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Today’s Talent, Tomorrow Skills: Udacity’s Job Guarantee

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The current hiring landscape brings with it some significant challenges, and Udacity understands how difficult it is to keep up with the pace of technological change. But we also know that you’re committed to overcoming whatever hurdles stand in your way, and that talent acquisition is instrumental to your company’s success. Through our work with dedicated learners driven to pursue the most amazing career opportunities available, and courtesy of our critical industry partnerships, we have been able to amass a wealth of insight into the state of today’s hiring needs, and we believe we have found a way for you to hire faster better, and smarter.

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So Obvious You Missed It: How To Solve The Employee Engagement Puzzle

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For decades, an effective learning and development program has been considered an important part of an employee engagement and retention strategy. New research, however, shows that its level of importance has been understated—significantly, perhaps even tremendously.

Having happy, motivated and engaged employees is critical for organizations. Engaged employees power growth and innovation. According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform others by 147 percent in earnings per share and have 25-65 percent less turnover, depending on whether they are low- or high-turnover organizations.

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Is There A Skills Gap Crisis Looming, and Can Learning & Development Avert It?

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Is there a skills gap crisis? Are organizations right to be worried about workforce capability? The pressure to innovate, to be agile, and to adapt has certainly never been greater. And talent has never been more transient, nor have both recruiting and retention ever been so challenging. But a crisis?

Business leaders are certainly expressing concern. Only 28 percent of business leaders believe their organizations are “ready” or “very ready” in the area of workforce capability, according to “Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends 2015” survey. Which obviously means 72 percent of business leaders are worried.

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AT&T’s Transformational Journey

“Never has there been a greater need for people who not only understand concepts at work, but can put them into immediate practice to move the business.” – Nate Edwards, Vice President of AT&T University

 

Sophisticated, progressive technology is an indispensable necessity for any business that wishes to maintain relevancy in the modern global climate of rapid growth, innovation, and change. Companies must not only transform how they provide goods and services to consumers; they must transform internally as well. To be competitive, companies need extraordinary talent. Upskilling your workforce is one of the single most important projects your organization can undertake. AT&T, recognizing the critical importance of internal development, recently took some remarkable steps to upskill and transform its workforce.

Since its founding in 1885, AT&T has been no stranger to change. Because of its ability to embrace transformation, the company is even more relevant today than it was over a century ago. Its most recent evolution, from a telecom company to a full-fledged technology company, hinged on the upskilling of thousands of employees.

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