More than 8,000 trained under TechSkills Accelerator

Dr Yaacob (second from left) at an Alpha Camp class with students (from left) Ashleigh Rhazaly and Ng Yao Min and the school's chief executive Bernard Chan (standing). The school equips students with skills to enter the information and communications
Dr Yaacob (second from left) at an Alpha Camp class with students (from left) Ashleigh Rhazaly and Ng Yao Min and the school's chief executive Bernard Chan (standing). The school equips students with skills to enter the information and communications technology industry.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

At Alpha Camp yesterday, the laughter of six adults in a tiny classroom was audible through the walls. A bag of nuts hand-labelled "funny peanuts" sat on the table while a lecturer in front delivered a class on computational thinking.

But the fun has a serious purpose at this "camp". Once they finish their full-time 12-week coding course, the students will be equipped with skills to enter the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

They 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 jobs within three months of completing their course.

TIPP supports Singaporeans who have no experience in ICT 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 added that students need to interact with industry players to have 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, 26, took up the course to get 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".

Classes are from 9.30am to 6pm from Mondays to Fridays and he continues coding for four to five hours after lessons end. "It's very intense. If you don't put in the hours you'll fall behind," he said.

But he is grateful for the support of his classmates. "They're all really motivated and willing to help you when you're down."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'More than 8,000 trained under TechSkills Accelerator'. Print Edition | Subscribe