Non-profit Cyber Youth Singapore to offer volunteers for SAF's new digital defence scheme

Cyber Youth Singapore CEO Ben Chua speaking at the relaunch of the Digital Work-Learn Scheme on March 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - All male members of Cyber Youth Singapore (CYS), a non-profit organisation, will be encouraged to volunteer to spend their national service as digital specialists in the Singapore Armed Forces.

The length of their service will double from two years to four if they are selected by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). They will work on digital projects for the military while attending classes at Nanyang Technological University in a new programme announced by the university and the Ministry of Defence earlier in March.

Full-time national servicemen participating in the Digital Work-Learn Scheme will serve as digital specialists under the SAF's newly established Digital and Intelligence Service for four years.

CYS announced its support for the scheme at its relaunch by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday (March 29) at the Marina Bay Sands' expo and convention centre.

CYS was formed in 2019 and now has about 1,700 members, of whom 75 per cent are men.

It seeks to help young Singaporeans develop digital skills and be a national platform for them on digital issues.

CYS chief executive Ben Chua, 22, said in a speech at the event that CYS will commit to organising programmes with the Ministry of Defence and SAF for the next two years, aside from the NS initiative.

The ongoing war in Ukraine is a reminder that Singapore's sovereignty cannot be taken for granted, Mr Chua added.

He said: "While still actively engaging our partners in the industry, CYS will commit to augment, supplement and prioritise the manpower needs of national defence and security organisations in Singapore for the next two years."

Mr Teo also spoke on the importance of cyber security to both personal and national security.

He said: "We need to strengthen collaboration for our collective defence. With the pervasiveness of digital technologies, cyber security cannot only be the responsibility of the Government, cyber-security professionals or cyber-security firms."

Mr Teo said that to achieve this, Singapore must build capabilities by nurturing and grooming cyber-security professionals.

He added that while the Government has invested heavily in growing the local talent pool, it welcomes more organisations to join in such efforts. Communities such as CYS provide an important platform for students and young people to learn more outside school, he said.

CYS also inked an agreement with JTC Corporation to deepen their existing collaboration and to set up a physical headquarters in the Punggol Digital District by 2024.

The district, now under construction in Punggol North, is designed to bring together industry and academia, and will house the Singapore Institute of Technology's (SIT) campus and JTC's Business Park spaces.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean spoke on the importance of cyber security. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Mr Chua added that CYS will organise a competition for young people with SIT and JTC later this year.

CYS also announced other initiatives to bring young people together and share knowledge on digital topics.

Mr Chua said: "Understandably, there is red tape when huge organisations like our institutes of higher learning (IHL) interact with each other, slowing down the collaboration process."

He added that CYS would be bringing together students from the Institute of Technical Education, the five polytechnics and Singapore's autonomous universities together at an IHL Round-table event soon.

He said: "This IHL Round-table is meant to facilitate conversations among the computing school population across IHLs and will be officiated in the upcoming month."

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