Singapore aims to build up AI skills for digital economy

Country's government has introduced initiatives to train 12,000 people in artificial intelligence skillsets, including industry professionals and secondary school students.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore is looking to build up local skillsets in artificial intelligence (AI) through two new initiatives, with the aim to enrol 12,000 industry professionals and young students.

Spearheaded by AI Singapore, a local programme under Singapore's National Research Foundation, the new initiatives hoped to demonstrate how AI technologies could be applied to daily lives and enable professionals to use such tools to boost productivity.

The government earlier had earmarked AI as one of four technologies essential in driving Singapore's push to be a "digitally ready" nation and its digital economy.

AI Singapore's executive chairman Ho Teck Hua said: "AI has the potential to catalyse change. In an increasingly digital world, it is imperative that everyone is AI-ready so that they can benefit from the immense potential of AI."

The initiatives would be parked under the country's TechSkills Accelerator programme, which was established to build up technology skills to fuel the local ecosystem.

One of the new initiatives, dubbed AI for Everyone, was targeting to enrol 10,000 people including secondary school students and working adults and introduce them to the potential of AI technologies. The programme, offered free to the public, would be jointly supported by industry regulator Infocomm Media Authority (IMDA) and software vendor Microsoft. Chipmaker Intel also would be roped in a content provider.

The second initiative was targeted at "technically inclined" industry professionals, with the aim to train 2,000 in basic AI competency. It would focus on software development skills for the Python platform and participants would receive a Foundation in AI certification upon completing the programme.

The course would span three months and compromise both online and offline modules developed by AI Singapore and its content partners. To be driven by AI Singapore, the programme also would be supported by IMDA, Microsoft, and Intel as well as online AI learning platform DataCamp.

Fees for the course would be subsidised by the TechSkills Accelerator CITREP programme, which was funded by IMDA.

Ho added: "Whether it is for future job opportunities, career advancement or just knowing the basics, we are hopeful that these two programmes by AI Singapore will benefit many people in Singapore, providing them with the knowledge and skills to thrive in the digital economy."

In a separate announcement Thursday, IMDA said it had formally established Singapore's advisory council on the ethical and legal use of AI.

First unveiled in June, the council would aim to build "a trusted ecosystem" and ensure consumer confidence, as the country continued to develop its digital economy and new business models emerged.

Chaired by Singapore's former attorney-general VK Rajah, the Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data comprised 10 other members including Google's Asia-Pacific vice president of legal Jenni Aldrich, Temasek International COO and President Chia Song Hwee, Alibaba Group's vice president and deputy general counsel Sara Yu Siying, and DBS Bank Group CEO Piyush Gupta.

According to IMDA, the council would assist the government on issues supporting the development of AI governance capabilities and frameworks. These would include engaging ethics boards of commercial enterprises on ethical and related issues arising from private sector use of AI and data, as well as representatives on consumer expectations and acceptance of the use of AI.

It also would assist the Singapore government in developing ethics standards and reference governance frameworks, and publish advisory guidelines and codes of practice.

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