Over the past few years, the Tech industry has grown at an exponential rate, and in spite of initiatives by the government and private sector, the demand for IT and computer professionals has outstripped the supply. There are a great number of positions waiting to be filled, not only in the key sectors of app. development, data analytics, cybersecurity, and robotics, but across the board; in other areas not traditionally considered to be computer-related, such as transportation, law, and recruitment.
The dearth of computer professionals has resulted in companies offering higher salaries and perks to attract not only Singaporeans but also specialists from the region and beyond. This is definitely a great time to be an IT professional, and if your child has an affinity for computers, this is the opportune time to steer them on the path to acquiring coding skills. Even if they do not end up having a career in the Tech industry, the computational thinking skills gained as a result of learning how to code, will give them an edge in school and in life.
Tech Salaries On The Rise
According to the 2018 Singapore Salary Guide by a staffing firm, software, web, and multimedia developers are among the most in-demand jobs. A degree-holder application architect with 6 to 10 years of experience, for example, can earn between $8,000 to $11,000 monthly, while a chief technology officer with 15 to 20 years of experience can look forward to a monthly salary of $13,000 to $21,000.
In another survey conducted with 11,628 fresh graduates from NUS, NTU and SMU in November 2017, their median gross monthly salary was $3,400, up from $3,300 the previous year. However, graduates in computer science, from NUS for example, earned even more; they received a median gross monthly salary of $4,285, up from $4,000.
Regardless of the career sector graduates want to get into, they will be faced with Tech’s pervasiveness in almost every organisation they join. Today, mature workers and even fresh graduates who are not predisposed to Tech are upgrading themselves by picking up skills in data analytics, digital media, financial technology (fintech) and coding.
The Evolution Of Our Smart Nation
In 2011, NUS Enterprise, SingTel Innov8, and the Media Development Authority of Singapore came together to establish the first start-up hub called Blk71. Today, it houses hundreds of tech start-ups, venture capitalists and incubators, with many of them focusing on next-gen solutions in Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Big Data, and the Internet Of Things (IoT).
In 2018, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched the Digital Economy Framework for Action as part of the Singapore Digital (SG:D) movement, to encourage everyone from the government to organisations and individuals, to work together to thrive in the digital economy.
To grow the specialised workforce needed to develop the technology that makes life a better experience for everyone, we need to nurture them from young. At the launch of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative in 2014, PM Lee Hsien Loong stated that we needed to get our children in schools exposed to IT and programming; to at least learn the basics. Two years later, the Code@SG movement was launched to nurture a love for technology among young Singaporeans and to continue developing coding and computational thinking as a national capability.
STEM & STEAM In Schools
Much has been made about STEM and more recently STEAM in education, but why is this so, and how is this related to the growth of our Smart Nation and Tech industries?
STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – fall under the Applied Learning Programmes (ALPs) found in primary and secondary schools in Singapore. Having neither tests nor exams, ALPs promote learning via experimentation. A strong foundation in STEM specifically, will give your child an edge in pursuing a career in IT and programming, which will in turn meet the demand for a suitably equipped workforce.
STEAM on the other hand, adds Arts into the mix – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. It introduces the elements of aesthetics, inquiry, creativity, and innovation which are critical for overcoming the limitations inherent in STEM.
A recent development in secondary level education in Singapore, STEAM is only currently offered in The School of Science and Technology. STEM however is more widespread; 7 secondary schools offer STEM as a subject while 42 secondary schools offer at least one of the STEM subjects. In addition, 19 secondary schools offer robotics as a subject while 8 secondary schools offer a coding, programming or computational thinking subject.
At the tertiary level, all 5 polytechnics have courses in information/digital technologies, ITE has courses in robotics, cyber security and app. development, while 4 of our universities (NUS, NTU, SMU and SIT) and about 13 private tertiary institutions offer computer science/engineering and IT related courses.
The Building Blocks Of The Tech Industry
Coding is the process of programming a computer to perform tasks – by keying in a line of code, we are essentially communicating with computers and digital technology, and getting them to interact with each other. Coding hence, is the new literacy upon which our Smart Nation is built.
There are two approaches to learning coding – Block-Based and Text-Based. Block-Based Coding is graphics-based and involves using pre-set blocks of instructions. It is taught in schools and most enrichment centres. On the other hand, Text-Based Coding involves typing actual characters with a keyboard, which is how professional programmers code.
An analogy can be drawn here between STEM/STEAM and Block-Based/Text-Based Coding. Just as learning STEAM can unleash a child’s creativity and encourage innovation, learning Text-Based Coding will do the same for your child. Not limited to pre-set blocks of code, your child can come up with an infinite number of permutations to creatively solve problems.
More Educational Opportunities In Tech
To meet the demand for computing courses and tackle the industry shortfall in IT professionals, NUS offered almost 900 places in computing-related courses for new students this year (2018/2019), up from 732 places the previous year. New specialisations in Financial and Marketing Analytics were also on offer this year, building on the specialisations in Financial Technology and Digital Innovation introduced last year. The number of internships in computing has also risen – 400 students took up computing internships last year with many of them opting to start in their first year.
According to Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Chua Ming Quan who applied for a place in NUS Computing, he believes that computational thinking is an essential life skill and plays a role in every industry. He also said, “The diversity of the subject makes a career in computing extremely fulfilling and enriching and offers graduates a myriad of job opportunities. By increasing the places being offered in computing, more students will be able to benefit from it.” (NUS News, 1 March 2018)
Your Child’s Learning Journey Begins Here
Here in Duino Kids, we teach Text-Based Coding to students from Primary 3 to tertiary level. We also offer it as an enrichment programme in M.O.E. schools and private educational institutions. The course builds a strong foundation for any child wanting to take the first step into the world of computer programming.
Taught by M.O.E. registered instructors, the programme offers two learning pathways – Computer Engineering, Robotics & Programming’ and ‘Software & Programming’. Your child will progress through 4 Modules (each with 3 levels of advancement) with the view to pursue a higher education and relevant career in the Tech industries.
Not Only For Beginners
If your child has prior knowledge of coding and would like to deepen their understanding of the subject, they can skip what they already know to begin at a module that is appropriate for their level (we will interview them to make the assessment).
In addition, if your child is struggling with their coding-related subjects in school, our programme can supplement and help fill the gaps in their knowledge. In fact, we currently have several ongoing classes for polytechnic students.
To enrol your child for a trial lesson or to know more about our programme and how it can benefit your child, please contact us at +65 6528 8359.