Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Hometech newsITE grad earns diploma thorough IMDA accelerator scheme, secures job in ICT...

ITE grad earns diploma thorough IMDA accelerator scheme, secures job in ICT sector

SINGAPORE – He intended to further his studies after graduating from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in 2016, but Mr Muhammad Syurhan Ja’afar did his national service (NS) instead.

“I needed the money,” said Mr Syurhan, 25, who was already living apart from his family then.

He managed to earn a diploma six years later, with the help of the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative aimed at equipping workers with in-demand tech skills.

He is now working at tech firm Racks Central’s data centre here.

Mr Syurhan was mentioned in Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How’s speech during the debate on his ministry’s budget last Friday.

Mr Tan had shared plans by the Government to help polytechnic and ITE students and graduates kick-start their careers in the tech sector.

These include providing the students and graduates with end-to-end support through internships while they are in schools and apprenticeships at companies.

Graduates can further their studies and deepen their expertise through schemes under TeSA, such as the SkillsFuture Work-Study programmes – which was what Mr Syurhan did to earn his diploma.

But his path to the ICT sector was fraught with challenges.

He and his three siblings started living with their grandparents when he was in primary school.

His parents had divorced when he was nine, with his mother gaining custody of the children.

She was later arrested in Japan and is still serving a 10-year jail term there. He does not know what she was convicted of.

He moved in with a friend’s family when he was about 15 years old.

“I felt that my grandparents’ house was squeezy,” he said, adding that he wanted some personal space.

To make ends meet while studying, he worked part-time in McDonald’s and took on odd jobs.

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He later studied at ITE College East for a Nitec qualification in infocomm technology, including taking on a six-month internship with local tech company NCS.

Graduating in 2016, he went on to serve his NS and later worked for a year at a logistics firm. But he returned to ITE College East in 2019, enrolling in the work-study diploma in data centre infrastructure and operation.

He said he applied for the programme after finding out that data centres were part of a fast-growing field in the tech sector.

“I was interested to know how (data centres) work,” he said.

During the two-and-a-half-year programme, which comprises periods of full-time studies and on-the-job training stints at companies, he learnt to operate and maintain data centres.

He had on-the-job training at Racks Central, which sponsored his place in the course.

He graduated last month and is now a full-time operations engineer at the firm.

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Mr Syurhan’s personal life has improved since his younger days. He got married recently and is currently living with his in-laws.

If given a choice, he would still choose the work-study diploma over a diploma course that comprises only studying full-time.

The full-time diploma may not have provided him with knowledge of how the industry works and the practical experience, he said.

He added that those in similar circumstances as himself who are considering an IT qualification should seize opportunities when they come.

They need not be passionate about a subject to learn about it, he said, adding that the ICT sector encompasses a wide range of fields.

“Soon enough, you’ll know what you are good at and what you like, (so that) you can specialise in it,” said Mr Syurhan.

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