Tuesday, 2 June 2020

SG Digital Office to drive digitalisation nationwide and reach out to seniors, hawkers

SG Digital Office to hire 1,000 to help seniors, hawkers and others adopt technology
By Hariz Baharudin, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2020

To ensure no one gets left behind as Singapore becomes more digitally connected, the Government will be setting up a new digitalisation office to double down on outreach efforts to the hardest-to-reach segments of society and encourage them to adopt digital tools.

This new SG Digital Office (SDO) will recruit 1,000 digital ambassadors by the end of this month to help stallholders and seniors learn how to use digital tools - skills which the Government says are more important than ever, given disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


These ambassadors will cover all 112 hawker centres and wet markets this month to encourage stallholders to adopt SGQR codes for e-payment and avoid having to handle cash, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Ministry of Communications and Information said in a joint statement yesterday.

The SGQR code lets stallholders receive payments through 19 different providers, such as Dash, GrabPay and local bank offerings like PayLah.

This outreach will be ramped up next month to include coffee shops and industrial canteens, and the goal is to get 18,000 stallholders on board SGQR by June next year.

The plan is to build on and accelerate existing efforts to equip every business and individual - including seniors and small businesses - with digital tools and skills, as these would be crucial "to participate meaningfully in the new social and economic environment post-COVID-19", said the two agencies.



Said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran: "COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the way we lead our lives. While some of us have been able to make the necessary adjustments to work, learn or socialise from our homes because we are digitally connected, that is not the case for some of the elderly and vulnerable among us."

"Their lives can be better if they too are as digitally connected. The Government recognises that in the wake of COVID-19, digitalisation is now both an imperative and an opportunity," he added.

The 1,000 digital ambassadors who will be recruited under the SDO will work with companies, community groups and the public to educate and encourage all seniors as well as stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens to go digital.

By March next year, they would have reached out to 100,000 seniors, teaching them basic digital skills like how to buy things online and how to use smartphone apps to communicate with their friends and family.

Fruit seller Ho Liang Huat, 55, made the switch to digital two years ago, when he started to accept e-payment options at his stall in a market in Ang Mo Kio.

One of the difficulties he faced was learning how to use Internet banking, and he had to ask the children of other stallholders to explain to him how it worked.

"It really helped when there was someone to explain to me how to use it," said Mr Ho.



Retiree Mike Goh, 74, echoed Mr Ho's sentiments. He initially was afraid to use e-payments because he feared he would lose his money if he did so, but felt better once bank staff took him through how secure Internet banking is.

In an interview with the media yesterday, Mr Iswaran said these seniors and hawkers will not be the only ones the SDO will reach out to, and having digital ambassadors work with partners in the community will allow them to better understand and identify the needs of other groups too.

"While we are emphasising these particular groups, the hawkers and the seniors, it is not to the exclusion of these other important segments, whether it is the disabled or... other kinds of groups."



These digital ambassadors will consist of a mix of volunteers as well as staff hired for the role. The SDO will prioritise recruiting from graduating cohorts of institutes of higher learning in Singapore, who are reportedly having trouble finding jobs in the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.






















Job applications open for 1,000 digital ambassadors to help hawkers, seniors pick up digital skills
Digital ambassadors will earn $1,800 to $2,100, with one-year temporary contract
By Hariz Baharudin, The Straits Times, 2 Jun 2020

The 1,000 digital ambassadors that will be hired this month to help stallholders and seniors learn digital skills will be paid between $1,800 and $2,100 a month, according to multiple job listings for the role seen by The Straits Times.

These ambassadors, who will come under the new SG Digital Office (SDO) that was announced on Sunday, will be hired under a one-year temporary contract, as indicated on the Careers @ Gov website.

The SDO's aim is to intensify outreach efforts to the hardest-to-reach segments of society and encourage them to adopt digital tools and learn digital skills.



Its digital ambassadors will start with all 112 hawker centres and wet markets this month, to encourage stallholders to adopt e-payment and avoid having to handle cash.

By March next year, the ambassadors should have reached out to 100,000 seniors, teaching them basic digital skills such as how to buy things online and how to use smartphone apps to talk to friends and family.

On Sunday, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said these digital ambassadors will consist of a mix of volunteers as well as staff who will be hired for this role.

In response to a question on the proportion of volunteers and staff, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said on Sunday that the Government intends to recruit 1,000 people.

"We intend to have 1,000 employees recruited for this purpose. But it takes time to ramp up and you will need, therefore, a combination of both, and volunteers will always be a very important part of this effort, even after you have them."



IMDA and MCI had said SDO will prioritise the recruitment of ambassadors from graduating cohorts of the institutes of higher learning, who are reported to be having trouble finding jobs in the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mr Iswaran said on Sunday that a variety of people will be needed for this role.

It is going to be a spectrum of people - it will be young people like, for example, graduates from ITE (Institute of Technical Education) or polytechnics or universities, who can bring one perspective and an important set of skills to the table," he added.

"We will also need people who are in a mid-career type of age range, or maybe even older, because they will have both the experience of having had this journey, and perhaps a different way of communicating with this target segment."



Both the Careers @ Gov website and job listings for the role, posted by recruitment agencies such as Kelly Services and Certis Human Resource Services, do not specify what kind of academic qualifications are required for the job.

Instead, it states that among other things, these ambassadors should have good interpersonal and communication skills and be "patient" in guiding seniors and hawkers.

Mr Iswaran touched on this, too, saying that those who apply for the role will need to have empathy to perform well in the job.

"The key requirement across all of them is going to be the ability to empathise and relate to the context and needs of the specific customers they are dealing with on the ground."
























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