June 17, 2017 1:30 pm JST

Works Applications to offer AI interships in Singapore

Japanese software developer hopes program helps it hire more engineers

TSUNORU NAKASHIMA, Nikkei staff writer

Works Applications has nurtured some of its AI engineers in Singapore.

SINGAPORE -- Japan's Works Applications will partner with Singapore's government and the city-state's universities to foster artificial intelligence engineers through a hands-on internship.

The internship is open to junior-year students at the Singapore Institute of Technology, Nyanyang Technological University and three other universities. Starting in 2018, the program is to be held twice a year for six months. Some 20 to 30 students will be accepted for each session.

On-the-job training 

The program will be divided into an artificial intelligence research development course and an architecture and database research development course. The first will focus on characters classification analysis, the study of algorithms and the applications of machine learning using data provided by search engines. The second will teach big data analysis and media network research.

Both courses will be offered in the form of on-the-job training; students will be expected to acquire technical skills by actually doing research and development work at the company's Singapore base.

Singapore this year has invested about 12 billion yen ($109 million) in its AI-related national project -- an effort meant to attract related companies and get them to open shop in the country.

Works Applications develops AI-enhanced enterprise resource planning software that it calls AI Works. The software is designed to integrate business processes. The Singapore office is one base from which Works Applications develops its software.

The office has hired and nurtured more than 300 AI engineers.

AI Works' AI helps streamline the tasks of filling out such forms as expense reports. It can scan text in a PDF document at the click of a mouse and automatically input the necessary data.

Hiring AI engineers

The global competition to secure AI engineers is intensifying.

It is a race among U.S. information technology majors -- including Microsoft, Apple and Google -- as well as automakers, financial institutions and other corporate heavyweights.

By offering these internships, Singapore hopes to address the shortage of skilled AI engineers.

According to a government source, it is the first AI internship program in Singapore in which government, industry and academia will cooperate.

Works Applications had about 5,600 employees on a consolidated basis at the end of last June. Around 5,000 of these are engineers, and the company is now actively hiring in Singapore, China, India, Northern Europe and Russia.

The company wants to hire the best of the Singapore interns and raise its profile among Singaporean students who harbor AI ambitions.

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