Singapore starts MOOC to train data scientists

Country's ICT regulator kicks off the first class of its Massive Open Online Course in data sciences and analytics, which attracts more than 350 registrants and is provided by U.S. course provider, Coursera.

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has kicked off the first class of its Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in data sciences, as part of the country's efforts to bump up skillsets in a sector that is projected to see increasing demand. 

The first bell rang on Wednesday with more than 350 registrants attending the course, designed for working professionals who come from different industry backgrounds including IT, healthcare, finance, and education.

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Citing stats from McKinsey, IDA said the U.S. alone will face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 workers skilled in data sciences and analytics in 2018.  Through the MOOC, Singapore aims to ensure there will be a ready supply of relevant skills to support the country's ambition to be a "smart nation" , in which data and data analytics will play an important role.

Professionals with such skillsets are also expected to earn between $80,000 and $180,000 per year, IDA said. 

The online classes are provided through its partner and U.S. MOOC provider, Coursera, and include weekly in-class sessions that will cover course modules. These will be led by industry professionals who volunteer their time as course facilitators to guide, answer questions, and lead discussions with participants. 

Comprising 10 modules of various data science topics, the course will be conducted over 10 months. An assessment will be held at the end of the first nine modules, with a capstone project to be submitted at the end of the final module. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of achievement from the Johns Hopkins University.

IDA said 60 percent of the course registrants are professionals with at least five years of work experience.  

"MOOCs are good complements to a traditional university education, offering affordable and accessible means for working professionals to upgrade themselves and learn new skills. Nowhere is this truer than in Singapore, which has the highest rate of participation per internet user of any country in the world, and the highest per capita penetration in the Asia-Pacific region, surpassing larger markets like China and India," said Koh Pang Wei, Coursera's head of product management for university product.