SINGAPORE - Today (Feb 14) at Alpha Camp, the laughter of six adults is audible through the walls of their tiny classroom. A bag of nuts hand-labelled "funny peanuts"sits on the table while a lecturer in front delivers a class on computational thinking.
But there is a serious purpose to the fun.
Once they finish their full-time 12-week coding course, the students will join the more than 8,000 people trained under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative since it was launched last April, a number revealed by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.
Dr Yaacob, the day's special guest, said that some TeSA programmes have seen all their participants landing jobs after completing their courses.
Alpha Camp is a technology and start-up school that began in Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is a training partner under TeSA's Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), which hopes to place participants in tech role jobs within three months of completing their course.
The TIPP supports Singaporeans who have no experience in information and communications technology (ICT) skills and are interested in a tech career, current ICT professionals who want to upgrade their skills, and fresh graduates interested in the ICT sector.
Although classes are only in their fifth week, school founder and chief executive Bernard Chan is already planning for the future.
"As we are establishing our presence in Singapore, I want to be able to reach out to the private sector," he said. He explained that students need to interact with ICT industry players - whether start-ups or banks - in order to give them real-world experience.
Alpha Camp is in talks with more than 10 industry players to integrate them into the school's curriculum, said Mr Chan.
Mr Ashleigh Rhazaly, one of the Alpha Camp's six students, joined the course because he needed the tech skills to launch a health and fitness start-up. He was an assistant fixed income trader for seven months prior to this, but quit because he "wanted to do something more meaningful".
The 26-year-old starts classes at 9.30am and ends at 6pm from Mondays to Fridays, and said that he continues coding four to five hours after lessons end.
"It's very intense. If you don't put in the hours you'll fall behind and lag behind very far," he said. However, he is grateful for the support of his classmates.
"They're all really motivated and they're all willing to help you when you're down... We make sure no one gets left behind."