Future-proof your career in the digital age with Republic Polytechnic

RP’s immersive AI training programme helps workers upgrade their skill sets to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving technological landscape

Republic Polytechnic's Tech Immersion and Placement Programme in Applied Artificial Intelligence allows participants to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to flourish in a growing Artificial Intelligence industry. PHOTO: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been cast in a bad light over the years due to its ability to take over some basic jobs. On the contrary, if harnessed correctly, AI can pave the way to breakthrough innovation, and workers who are skilled in the field will be highly employable for jobs of the future. It can also take over repetitive mundane tasks, freeing up workers to perform more value-added responsibilities.

Taking a brave step to embrace AI are Mr Chua Beng Choong and Ms Ho Yoke Yin, two of Republic Polytechnic's (RP) students in its new Tech Immersion and Placement Programme in Applied Artificial Intelligence (TIPP in AAI).

Both in their 40s, Mr Chua and Ms Ho decided to sign up for the three-month programme last year to gain industry-relevant skills in preparation for careers in AI. They are currently halfway into the programme, which will include a final four-week industry capstone project where they will get to apply what they have learnt in the classroom.

They will each be working with industry partners to develop a prototype, or AI-enabled solutions to identify and address business needs.

The programme, designed in collaboration with AI Singapore and Microsoft Singapore, is supported under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Tech Immersion and Placement Programme. Infocomm Media Development Authority drives the TeSA initiative, together with industry and government agency partners - such as SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore.

Upon successful completion of the TIPP in AAI, participants will be equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge to perform important roles in the field of AI, like conducting research and identifying opportunities for new and emerging technology to support business requirements.

They will also get the opportunity to explore roles such as AI or machine learning engineers, AI application developers or systems integrators - something Mr Chua and Ms Ho are looking forward to.

Exploring uncharted territories

Having worked as a fund manager for 12 years, Mr Chua, who has a background in business and actuarial science, took a break to pursue his interest in data science, with the possibility of embarking on a mid-career change.

Married with two daughters, the 45-year-old observed how the financial industry has changed since he first started working. He explains: "Many decisions now need to be augmented by data insights. Going forward, I think AI is an essential technology for both individuals and companies."

Ms Ho Yoke Yin is one of the students in RP's pioneering batch of applicants for the TIPP in AAI. PHOTO: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC

Ms Ho, likewise, also witnessed a digital transformation in her workplace. Having been in the book publishing and eduTech industry - working in various IT-related roles such as a systems analyst, web services manager and service delivery manager - for more than a decade, she saw how print publishers have evolved into providers of digital content, and how they have had to develop technology-enabled adaptive learning solutions.

During her previous company's global restructuring efforts in March 2017, the 48-year-old was one of those affected. But she did not let it dampen her spirits.

Ms Ho says: "During that time, I was looking for skills that could keep me employable for the next five to 10 years. That drove me to take up a Specialist Diploma in Business & Big Data Analytics, which I completed last August. It provided a good foundation, but I wanted to delve deeper, and believed the TIPP in AAI would allow me to build my skill sets further in the growing AI field."

Incidentally, Ms Ho and Mr Chua had met earlier during an Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore event and she had been the one who had told him about the programme. The two ended up enrolling together and becoming coursemates.

A fertile learning ground

What Mr Chua appreciates most about his TIPP in AAI experience so far is the quality and guidance of his lecturers - many of whom are actively involved in AI projects.

The TIPP in AAI is a full-time three-month programme, with modules such as Machine Learning Fundamentals and Research Methods for Data Science. PHOTO: REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC

"AI is a big subject, so being able to learn from AI practitioners has been very constructive. Outside of the course curriculum, the lecturers would also share best practices that we could tap on," he says.

As for Ms Ho, she particularly enjoys the Mathematics, Deep Learning Fundamentals and Python for Data Science modules; her prior knowledge of computer science and data analytics helps her to keep up with the rigours of the programme.

"The course is full-time and fast-paced, and the content covered is comprehensive. I really appreciate that we're able to consult our trainers, share our experiences with fellow course mates and encourage one another," she says.

Onwards and upwards

Ms Ho says that going back to school is not her biggest obstacle. Rather, she is concerned about finding an age-friendly workplace after she graduates later this year.

Even so, she remains driven and excited at the prospect of exploring a new and exciting career. "Your success is determined by your level of self-discipline and perseverance. I plan to press on, because I enjoy what I'm learning and what I hope to do in the future," she says.

Agreeing with Ms Ho, Mr Chua says: "I wasn't very worried about leaving my career in finance, because I've always believed that as long as I continue to upgrade my skills, it will put me in good stead professionally.

"I was prepared to learn a lot. By giving us hands-on industry experience, the TIPP in AAI is helping me develop the required AI skills and given me a chance at a second career."

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