SINGAPORE (Feb 10): Nigel Chan, a 28-year-old performance management analyst in Prudential Singapore’s distribution division, is well aware of the need to invest time in keeping up with digital trends.

Even though knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) is not an immediate requirement in his current role, Chan believes it is critical for him – and others like him – to be equipped with the skills to better leverage data in their daily work.

“Over the last few years, the skills in demand are often associated with AI, data analytics and cloud computing. If I do not quickly get acquainted with Al and its application, I could start to lose relevance very soon,” Chan says.

For this reason, he is one of the first Prudential employees to sign up for the online certification programme, Machine Learning for Humans.

Launched earlier this month, the online course is a collaboration between Prudential Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

The insurance company is offering the programme to 1,200 of its employees. So far, more than 170 have signed up.

The ability to understand AI and apply it to what we do is a useful skill to have, regardless of job roles, says Sheela Parakkal, chief human resource officer at Prudential Singapore.

“We are seeing greater implementation of Artificial Intelligence across our business,” Parakkal says. “For instance, our chatbot, askPRU, that has changed the way our 5000-strong team of financial consultants interact with our customers, is an AI-powered solution.”

“As technology continues to transform the way we work, we want to equip our employees with the capability to leverage it. With the new Machine Learning programme, we hope our employees can acquire an important skillset that will boost their relevance in this digital age,” she adds.

This machine learning programme follows the successful launch of the foundational course, AI in Finance, to over 200 Prudential employees last year.

Prudential employees who have signed up for the new programme will be trained by data scientists from both the public and private sectors.

The online course can be completed within 30 hours, following which employees are required to take scenario-based assessments to demonstrate their understanding and ability to translate theory into application.

“With Machine Learning playing an increasingly vital role in driving business decisions, Ngee Ann Poly is excited to collaborate with Prudential to launch our inaugural online course, Machine Learning for Humans,” says Clarence Ti, principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

“This partnership is a significant milestone for Ngee Ann Poly as we look forward to equipping companies like Prudential to upskill their employees and embrace the technology that is changing the landscape of the financial services sector in Singapore,” he adds.

According to Prudential, it provided 18,000 training hours last year to employees in areas like design thinking, innovation and project management.

It adds that employees who successfully upskill themselves can subsequently take on new roles within the organisation as part of its internal mobility programme.

Last year, some 9% of Prudential’s workforce took up a new role in the company.