SINGAPORE: A new academy will be launched in the second quarter of this year to help public service officers build up digital skills in areas such as data analytics and cybersecurity.
Driven by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG), it aims to offer 95 training programmes and train more than 6,000 public service officers within the first year.
This was announced by Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan during the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Friday (Feb 26).
Dr Balakrishnan said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “real stress test” for the Smart Nation initiative. New solutions were rapidly developed by engineers from the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and other public agencies.
“These achievements have only been possible because of our relentless recruitment of talent and especially in-house engineering capabilities before the crisis hit. We must now double down on building up our people, building up our capabilities and our agility and to use the latest cutting-edge technologies,” he added.
The Government will continue to tap on its Smart Nation Scholarships and other talent development programmes to attract and nurture top talent in information and communications technology (ICT) within the public sector, said the minister.
In a separate media release, SNDGG said the new digital academy will offer programmes that are “contextualised for the Government’s systems and operating environment”.
It will start with 55 programmes in various fields such as applications development, data and analytics as well as digital leadership. Another 40 programmes will be made available by end-March next year.
Programmes will be conducted in multiple formats, ranging from in-person or virtual lectures to instructor-led workshops, tech talks, hackathons and on-the-job training opportunities.
The curriculum will be constantly refreshed to address the fast-changing technology landscape and equip public officers, particularly those in the ICT & Smart Systems sector, with the current skills, said SNDGG.
RAMP UP CLOUD MIGRATION
The Government is also hoping to shift 70 per cent of its eligible information technology systems to the commercial cloud by 2023, after migrating 37 per cent of such systems last year.
“One area which we will do more of is to (make) greater use of the cloud in order to scale new services and re-engineer existing services,” said Dr Balakrishnan. “This shift to the cloud incidentally will also make us greener and more sustainable."
At the moment, 95 per cent of the Government’s transactions with citizens and businesses are completed digitally from end-to-end. This means a paperless and cashless manner that does not require showing up in-person.
This is an increase of 8 per cent from two years ago and is one of the highest rates in the world, said SNDGG, adding that the Government will extend digital platforms and paperless processes to the private sector to reduce paper wastage.
PARTNERSHIP IS KEY
Dr Balakrishnan also announced that a new citizen panel will be formed in the third quarter of this year to explore how digital services can be made more inclusive, especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Partnership is key, he stressed.
The Government has partnered with the private sector – for instance, the finance industry – to build up e-payments channels like PayNow and more recently, the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex).
The latter, which was launched late last year, enables users to pool their financial data – account balances, credit cards, loans and investments – from several banks and government agencies, and view them on a platform of their choice.
READ: Under one roof: Users able to view financial data from bank, government accounts on single platform
An update from SNDGG said the platform has seen more than 120,000 users, with 160,000 linked bank accounts and 360,000 data retrievals. There are plans to set up similar data-sharing initiatives in other sectors, it added.
Concluding his speech, Dr Balakrishnan said: "COVID-19 did not change history, but it has accelerated both the needs and opportunities arising from the digital revolution.
"Our Smart Nation initiative has put us in a good position to seize the moment and to prove that we can and do solve real-world problems quickly, and to differentiate ourselves in a post-COVID world."