The class looks more like one on city planning than programming — groups of three or four gathered around large white squares with Lego buildings, animatedly debating the best placement for a city mall. The task being tackled, however, is not one of urban development, but rather problem-solving, logic and organisation — the building blocks of programming.
“We train for very specific job scopes,” says Delaine Cheong, Director of Enterprise Development at Temasek, which set up digital transformation agency Temus in partnership with UST in 2021. Its intense bootcamp-styled Step IT Up (SIU) programme, now training its second batch of 21, equips those without a technology background with the skills to pursue a career in the field. Presently, SIU graduates are working on digitalisation projects for Temus’ customers across a range of sectors, from insurance to financial services and healthcare.
“It’s different from other bootcamps, where you still need to learn the specific skills for a particular job role after that,” says former optometrist, Christopher Tan, 38, who graduated from the programme in March. The skills he learnt with SIU, he says, can be immediately applied to the insurtech product he is currently developing with Temus.
“SIU trains for a specific technical specialisation such as .Net as well as low-code, and the content delivered would be on par with what a computer science graduate would have learnt in these areas over the course of the degree. We focus on the aspects that are directly relevant to the job scope we are training them for,” says Delaine, who is currently seconded to Temus as Director of Special Projects.
Temasek has established Centres of Excellence to build specialised capabilities in Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Data & Digital, and Sustainable Solutions — the Temasek Operating System (T-OS). These Centres of Excellence create next-generation capabilities and offer value to Temasek’s ecosystem as well as the broader marketplace. Temus “sits in the centre” of Data & Digital, says Delaine.Learn about how we are building future-centric capabilities across our ecosystem to capture value from the trends of tomorrow
Temasek’s portfolio companies and ecosystem partners have digital transformation needs. Through the SIU programme, Temus looks into non-tech local talent pools and provides the necessary training to create digital talent with skill sets to meet market demands.
Since its November launch, interest in the SIU programme has been overwhelming, she says, with 900 applicants for the approximately 20 available places in each run, the majority being mid-career professionals. “They see SIU as the entry point into the technology industry that would open up possibilities in various technology career tracks going forward.”
A critical differentiator of the SIU programme is that it guarantees placement upon successful graduation. “We talk about the talent scarcity, but there are many people in other fields who want to move into tech. What we need to do is make that possible,” she says. “We set this up as a place-and-train (PnT) programme, meaning that if you graduate from the programme, you’ve already secured a job.”
“We talk about the talent scarcity, but there are many people in other fields who want to move into tech. What we need to do is make that possible.”
Director, Enterprise Development
As prepared as Christopher was, the course turned out to be much more challenging than he anticipated.
“I expected to be drinking from a firehose, but even then, it was a lot more intense. I made up for it by spending more time first thing in the morning, and then revising a couple more hours after training ended, and I am glad I stuck it out,” he says. He has continued to acquire knowledge since graduating in March because “there are always things to learn, and problems to solve”.
This level of motivation is a key criterion in the rigorous recruitment process.
Those who score in motivation are more likely to stay the course, put their best foot forward, and appreciate the job, says Delaine.
Going forward, Temus aims to run the SIU programme two to three times a year, at the optimal batch size of around 20 students. While the first two batches focused on software development, future batches may focus on other areas, including data analytics. “We will look at what’s in demand, and train entry level tech roles in these spaces,” says Delaine.
As well as building the capabilities to meet the digital needs of Temasek and its ecosystem partners, the PnT model will allow Temus to continue to offer opportunities to those like Christopher, who are keen to pivot their careers.
“If we give the opportunity to the right people — to those who really, really want this — we can have a lot of impact with this programme, 20 people at a time.”
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