Prudential offers machine learning training for all 1,200 employees

All 1,200 employees of insurer Prudential Singapore will be able to learn how to better use data in their daily work through a new online certification programme.

More than 170 staff have signed up for the free course in machine learning since it launched on Feb 1, said Prudential yesterday.

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on developing computer programmes that can learn from new data so as to perform tasks without needing explicit instructions from humans.

Participants will be trained by data scientists from the public and private sectors, and will take scenario-based assessments to show that they can apply what they have learnt.

The 30-hour course is called Machine Learning for Humans and follows a foundational course called AI in Finance, which was taken by over 200 Prudential staff last year.

Both courses were developed together with Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Prudential Singapore chief human resources officer Sheela Parakkal said that the company is making greater use of AI, such as through its askPRU chatbot that interacts with financial consultants.

"With the new machine learning programme, we hope our employees can acquire an important skill set that will boost their relevance in this digital age," she said.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic principal Clarence Ti said: "This partnership is a significant milestone for Ngee Ann Poly as we look forward to equipping companies like Prudential to upskill their employees and embrace the technology that is changing the landscape of the financial services sector in Singapore."

Last year, 9 per cent of Prudential's employees took on new roles in the company. The firm said that its internal mobility programme provides this flexibility for staff who successfully upskill themselves.

Mr Nigel Chan, 28, a performance management analyst in Prudential's distribution division, signed up for the new machine learning course even though AI is not an immediate requirement in his role.

"Over the last few years, the skills in demand are often associated with AI, data analytics and cloud computing. If I do not quickly get acquainted with AI and its application, I could start to lose relevance very soon," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2020, with the headline 'Prudential offers machine learning training for all 1,200 employees'. Print Edition | Subscribe