According to the “AWS Building Skills for the Changing Workforce” report, prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta, and commissioned by AWS, the number of Singaporean workers requiring digital skills for their jobs is projected to increase by 647,000 by 2025, representing 29% of Singapore’s workforce. Despite this, only 24% of employers in Singapore have a training plan in place, which could affect their competitiveness in areas like productivity, innovation, and employee retention.

Cybersecurity skills and the ability to use cloud-based tools, such as online collaboration, accounting, and customer relationship management (CRM) software, will be the most in-demand skill required by employers by 2025[1] in Singapore.

It is imperative to start preparing the next generation of cloud professionals for early cloud careers and provide access to hands-on training. To encourage students in considering a career in cloud, local students attended the week-long AWS DeepRacer Bootcamp organized by the Infocomm and Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and AWS.

The 22-hour bootcamp saw 240 students learning Python Programming and Data Science through AWS DeepRacer, an autonomous race car that, through reinforcement learning, an advanced machine learning (ML) technique, learns how to drive itself around a racetrack. The bootcamp culminates in a physical AWS DeepRacer competition where teams compete for the fastest time around the track.

Boys wearing masks huddling over a computer, looking at the screen.
Student Ambassador Lachlan Goh (Raffles Institution) helps the team of Casper Chew (St Joseph's Institution), Haziq Haril (School of Science and Technology) and Ravikumar Shivreshi (Victoria School).

Passionate students wanting to learn more moved on to the Accelerator segment of the Data Science Bootcamp and Accelerator Program - a National Data Science enrichment program, where they were challenged to develop actual AI prototypes to solve real-world problems for the community, such as overcrowded refuse bins and noise pollution.

This is the first accelerator that brought collaborators from the public, private and people sectors together. 40 students aged between 13 and 16 from 23 Secondary schools were selected from over 240 applicants, to attend the 88-hour accelerator that ran across six months to deepen their knowledge of Data Science. Students used AWS Cloud Computing accounts and promotional credits to experiment with AWS Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning services to develop innovative cloud-based solutions such as identifying recyclable items, and alerting authorities to hazardous materials found in public housing corridors.

“Previously, I did not have much exposure to machine learning, given that the coding lessons in my school were mostly limited to Scratch,” said Isabella Tan, a student from Methodist Girls School. “I joined the program because I really wanted to learn more, and be able to create a practical application. The lessons have been super fun, and the skills and knowledge I’ve picked up are useful and very interesting!”

The students developed eight AI solutions to address real-world problem statements provided by Tampines Town Council, in partnership with Dunman Secondary School. In support of IMDA’s Digital for Life movement, students learn to conceptualize, design and build apps, which not only demonstrate a high level of technical competence but also provide different perspectives to solving real-life problems.

“It’s been a really amazing experience and I learned a lot about artificial intelligence and data science from this course. I’ve learnt problem-solving techniques, and I’m now able to coordinate projects better,” said Bryan Lim, a student from Maris Stella High School. “After this program, I’m taking my O levels, and this will help me decide what to pursue in the future, and now I would be confident enough to read data science courses.”

The inaugural event ended with students showcasing their AI solutions to Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, and Member of Parliament (MP) of Tampines GRC, at the graduation ceremony on 19 February 2022.

[1] AlphaBeta, part of Access Partnership (commissioned by Amazon Web Services) (2022), Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce in Asia Pacific and Japan