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NUS uses AI to encourage lifelong learning

Singapore has always had a strong lifelong learning ethos. The Government and its people have always pursued skills upgrading as a means of staying relevant and thus survival.

AI to Support SkillsFuture Credit

The Institute for Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology (ALSET) at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) latest AI based tool takes this attitude into the future. In collaboration with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), the pair are working to help Singapore’s work force choose appropriate courses which support their continuous education and career goals.

A pilot funded by a grant from the Workforce Development Applied Research Fund, the AI-based tool is the first part of a long-term initiative helmed by ALSET. This initiative seeks to research lifelong learning behaviours and policies in Asia.

Director of ALSET and co-Principal Investigator, Professor Robert Kamei, said, “We see vast potential for technology to help working adults to navigate an increasingly competitive and complex job market, but we need to rigorously test and evaluate these technologies to ensure they achieve meaningful impact for workers of all backgrounds, not just those who already possess high-demand skills.”

An anonymised dataset of 285 000 Singaporeans who have tapped on their SGD 500 worth of SkillsFuture credits since the launch of the SSG SkillsFuture Credit Program in 2016 were analysed. SkillFuture Credits are given to all Singapore citizens who are above the age of 25.

The purpose of the program is to encourage locals to be more proactive in actively upgrading their skillsets and updating their knowledge for the future. Individuals may choose from a wide range of pre-approved courses which includes vocational classes in pastry making, to more technical skills such as data analytics.

From the data set, ALSET will develop a system embedded within a mobile application to recommend courses to individuals from the SkillsFuture Credit catalogue.

First to trial the application are a cohort of NUS alumni between the ages of 22 to 29. Final results of the application are expected to be completed in mid-2019.

Singapore’s Lifelong Learning Journey

The pilot dovetails a similar project currently being trialled in NUS – the NUS career+ app. Previously reported here on OpenGov, the NUS career+ app is also AI powered. Jointly developed by NUS Computing and a private company, the app generates customised module recommendations for students based on their career goals and current course of study.

Earlier this year, Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung spoke about the state of Singapore’s education system and possible changes in the future. He said, “SkillsFuture is not just about the Credit. Neither is it just about getting IHLs (Institutes of Higher Learning) to deliver training programmes for adults. It requires a transformation of the education system as we know it; it requires our young to uncover their interests and passions and commit to learning their whole life; it requires employers, private training providers, and IHLs to all do their part for lifelong learning; and it requires society to celebrate and recognise a broad range of success.”

More plans are underway for the development of the SkillsFuture Credit program. Mr Ong announced that by 2020, the annual funding of IHL lifelong learning programs will up to SGD 100 million. Currently, the annual funding amounts to SGD 210 million.

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