Three ways AI can transform Singapore’s public sector workforce

By Workday

AI-driven technologies have improved outcomes across various aspects of the human resource (HR) function, offering lessons from other industries to the public sector.

Singapore's public sector organisations can tap on AI-driven data insights to improve employee experience at a time where demand is high. Image: Canva.

Amid a rapidly ageing working population and digitalisation, human resource (HR) functions have become a critical asset leaders can leverage to respond to these realities and keep their organisations relevant and competitive.


“This is especially true in the public sector, given the growing demand for public services and rising citizen expectations of the end-user experience," says Eunice Lim, Director of Corporate Affairs, Asia-Pacific & Japan, at Workday, a leading provider of solutions to help organisations manage their people and money.


For the public sector to better attract and retain staff, Lim shares that tapping on AI-driven data insights can improve the employee experience at a time when demand is high.


Here are three ways AI can transform Singapore’s public sector workforce:

1. Bridging skills gaps and enabling continuous development


As one of the world’s most digitally advanced governments, Singapore’s public sector finds itself in constant need of technology talent and engineering capabilities. However, it is not sustainable for the public sector to be competing with the private sector for technology talent based solely on remuneration.

Workforce skills are now core to most HR initiatives, driving decisions on both organisational and individual levels. Image: Eunice Lim.

“This is why data-driven insights fuelled by AI and ML can help organisations attract and retain staff by identifying skills gaps and needs more effectively, and proactively addressing them through existing talent development initiatives," says Lim.


Workforce skills are now core to most HR initiatives, driving decisions across both individual employee level and organisational level. For individual employees, AI can personalise recommendations for learning and career development based on their respective goals and roles.

At the organisational level, leaders can leverage AI to conduct a skills analysis across the organisation’s workforce – by mapping everyone’s skills to the roles – so that HR can more effectively deploy current employees to new roles while taking into consideration their learning and developmental needs.


“By utilising and embedding AI-driven insights based on skills data as the foundation, our public agencies can match internal resources to the right opportunities, ensure equitable compensation, create right opportunities for employee growth, and better implement long-term talent strategies based on skills gaps,” Lim explains.

2. Anticipating change to stay competitive


The post-pandemic world is fraught with escalating geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, and climate change. These events have exacerbated the sense of crisis for many governments, where there is too little time and resources to plan and prepare for a fundamentally different future.


For large organisations like the public sector, strategic workforce planning is hampered by the challenge of understanding the current skills held by the workforce and future demand.

“AI provides a unique opportunity to address this question by using ML to analyse data held within enterprise systems.


“For example, natural language processing and more advanced generative AI can effectively analyse performance appraisals and skill records in the millions, and then help workforce planners understand the skill mix in their organisations and how to match that to changing demands,” Lim says.


“Having a holistic view of current skill sets would also allow Singapore’s public agencies to better forecast future workforce requirements and conduct job redesigns that will help their workforce transit into the new digital economy,” Lim adds.

3. Improve individual employee experience and engagement


The last thing the public sector wants is overwhelmed and burnt-out employees leaving in huge numbers, compounding the current crisis and leading to dissatisfaction with the public service.


According to Lim, employee engagement is “a multi-faceted challenge for organisations, which includes bringing the right people experience, development opportunities, and equitable pay based on skills and performance.”


A good human capital management system can help identify factors leading to attrition, including engagement scores, performance metrics, and absence rates. This would allow HR to identify high-potential employees and create tailored development plans, Lim adds.


Happy workers make for happy customers. Aside from an improved service experience for citizens, an enhanced employee experience enables Singapore’s public agencies to position themselves as employers of choice, where they can build a workforce that has a deeper sense of engagement with the mission and purpose of public service, says Lim.


“At the end of the day, AI is helping to enable a public service that is not just more efficient and adaptive but also more aligned with the vision and mission of the Singapore public service. It is ultimately about retaining and building the right talent by keeping them engaged with the work they do and creating value for Singapore,” Lim says.



Workday is participating in GovInsider’s Festival of Innovation (FOI) 2024 happening from 26 – 27 March 2024 at Sands Expo! 


Sanjay Nathoo, Regional Sales Director – APAC, Workday, will be conducting a talk on the topic, “Unlock the Power of AI to Better Understand your Employees and Rightsize your Workforce,” on 26 March 2024, 1.15pm - 1.45pm (SGT), at the Engagement Zone in the main exhibition hall. Register for your pass at FOI 2024 here >>>


The team is also hosting a Public Sector HR Roundtable around future-proofing Singapore Public Sector through AI-driven insights on 27 March 2024, 2.30pm - 4.30pm. Click here to find out more about the roundtable event >>>