Beyond in-person or virtual lectures, the Academy will provide instructor-led workshops, tech talks, exchanges with communities of practice, hackathons, and offers for on-the-job training.

The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) has introduced a new platform designed to raise the digital competencies of all public service leaders and officers, particularly those in ICT.

Known as Digital Academy, it is dubbed a “practitioner for practitioner” academy that "operates at the unique intersection of technology and public service", and aims to groom future-ready digital leaders to be well-versed in the technology ecosystem to accelerate the public sector’s digital transformation.

The Academy, driven by Smart Nation and Digital Government Group and supported by its Operations Partner NUS-ISS, has a curriculum which combines knowledge from tech practice leads in GovTech and nine industry content partners, such as Amazon Web Services, Coursera, Google, Microsoft, and more.

Programmes offered at the Academy are designed for direct application in the business of government. For a start, the Academy will offer 55 programmes across several domains - such as applications development, cybersecurity, data science & AI, product management and tech management – and increase its offering to 95 programmes by end-March 2022.

These programmes are delivered using multiple formats, with an emphasis on applied learning, in an overall 'blended learning' approach. Beyond in-person or virtual lectures, participants can expect to attend instructor-led workshops, tech talks, exchanges with communities of practice, hackathons, and even be offered opportunities for on-the-job training.

For example, the Secure Code Programme by Secure Code Warrior engages learners via an interactive e-learning curriculum; while the Agile Methodology Workshop by ThoughtWorks features extensive and personalised coaching for teams; and the Starting a Data Science Project course by the Civil Service College presents participants with the chance to work on relevant hands-on projects. 

The virtual launch event held yesterday, attended by Human Resources Online, included a panel discussion moderated by D N Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People & Organisation, GovTech. Topic: Raising digital quotient in public service

Excerpts are shared below.

Q What, in your perspective, characterises a digital organisation? Is it industry-specific or agnostic? Do you need to be a born native to be digital?

Response by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health, who officiated the event:

Noting that when it comes to organisations, there are some commonalities which straddle the private sector and public sector, whether the organisation's mission mission is profit-driven or "on behalf of the public good."

In no particular order, he shared:

One is a commitment to basing your optimisation and your transformation processes as an organisation, around the opportunities afforded by technology. This includes process transformation, in other words, forcing yourself to think through some of the logical structures as a result of using technologies, about the efficiency gains and productivity of our users.

The second is an increasing appreciation of quantitative analysis, using data in both customer-facing as well as your internal processes, and your decision making. "I think this is especially so for the public sector's shift around digital transformation."

The third is the embracing of the agile, iterative process that some of this transformation, allows you to shorten some of your time horizons and your planning horizons, so that you can move quickly, iterate repeatedly, learn from the lessons and build on those successes. "I think those are both generic enough or applicable enough to many of our organisations that they cut across this entire spectrum." 

Q Contrary to popular belief, digital transformation is less about technology and more about people. The digital future depends on developing next-generation capabilities, closing the gaps between talent supply and demand, and your focus and knowledge for hard skills and potential for soft skills. For example, intellectual curiosity. They're all considered critical this year.

So we would like to welcome your thoughts from your own experiences of organisational practices of what is required beyond just technology and specifically from a people and culture focus in an organisation.

Response by Ng Wee Wei, Country Managing Director, Accenture Singapore:

"Most organisations have a multi generational workforce, and therefore I think one of the key words I'd like to bring on this question is that we need to be inclusive. We're seeing, and it's possible we're seeing employees across generations, embrace digital. It is really about the mindset and being open to learn."

She added: "I really believe that these programmes need to be designed to be broad-based in order to uplift capabilities across all spectrums of employees."

Q Any 'famous last words' to share?

Response by Patrick Teo, Head of Engineering for Payments, Next Billion Users and Site Leader for Google Singapore:

"I'd like to say that we have an immense opportunity to improve the lives of people grow businesses through digital technology. Digital technology enables us to put users first and build a useful, digital future for everyone. It enables organisations to work together to amplify them. But what is needed are organisations that promote continuous learning agility and innovation."

Summary of key takeaways by D N Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People & Organisation, GovTech:

#1 Think big, start small act fast is coming up very frequently.

#2 The biggest part of the digital transformation will actually be a change in mindset.

#3 We cannot delegate digital transformation specifically when it comes to a leadership team. "It's absolutely essential that the leadership team owns it. They engage adopt and adapt to the new ways of working, new technology, and like SMS Janil said, take the team along, and the team could be internal to the organisation or the users or the citizens in our case." 

Photo / Provided

[Panellists and Moderator pictured from L-R: Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health; Patrick Teo, Head of Engineering for Payments, Next Billion Users and Site Leader for Google Singapore; Ng Wee Wei, Country Managing Director, Accenture Singapore, and D N Prasad, Senior Director, Strategy, People & Organisation, GovTech]

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