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Singapore’s public sector organisations are rated more favourably by professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) than non-PMET workers, according to market research firm Blackbox Research’s annual Public Sector Experience Index (PSXI) for 2020.

The index, released on Wednesday (17 Feb), found that PMETs tend to favour digital interactions with the public sector and subsequently find the experience satisfactory, while non-PMETs rely on less satisfying in-person interactions.

A generational digital divide also persists in Singapore, as young respondents rate public sector agencies more favourably compared to seniors, according to Blackbox Research.

This is despite the elderly in Singapore being as informed and as connected as they have ever been.

“As savvy and connected as older generations may be today, they are still struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of digital progress,” said Saurabh Sardana, Chief Operating Officer of Blackbox Research.

“The PSXI shows this is especially true when it comes to accessing services online, a routine activity that younger Singaporeans take for granted but remains a major challenge for older users.

“While several agencies are addressing this head-on with various digital education initiatives, more can be done to bridge this divide so that no one is left behind,” he added.

The annual PSXI is an all-round composite index that measures where 30 public sector organisations — Ministries, Statutory Boards, and other agencies — stand in terms of their digitalisation journeys.

Covering 2,000 statistically representative Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs), the PSXI aimed to track public sector organisations’ digitalisation journeys, benchmarking their progress over time and across three key indicators: Impressions, sentiments, and interactions.

Blackbox observed that overall, Singapore is on the right track with programmes such as Seniors Go Digital, which has benefitted more than 16,000 senior citizens since it was launched in May last year.

The market research firm said that Singapore is on the right digitalisation trajectory, with an overall score of 46.7 last year — an 8.8 point increase from the previous year.

The PSXI data revealed a marked increase over just 12 months, with the overall score jumping from 37.9 in 2019 to 46.7 last year.

The Health Promotion Board (70.2), the National Parks Board (68.5), and the Central Provident Fund (59.7), National Library Board (59.4), and the Ministry of Health (57.8) are some of the public sector organisations that are further along in their digitalisation journey.

“This remarkable rise shows that public sector organisations are on the right trajectory, charting a course that has led a number of multinational corporations to favour Singapore as a technology-driven gateway to the ASEAN region,” said the research agency.

It also found that young respondents, aged between 15 to 34, rate public sector agencies most favourably with scores ranging between 29.9 and 74.4.

On the other hand, the scores related to senior respondents — aged 50 and above — start at 19.9 for some agencies.

Blackbox Research stated that Singaporeans are mostly aligned in the way they hold public sector organisations in high regard.

However, they remain divided when it comes to assessing whether their specific needs and expectations are being met.

“Across the board, public sector organisations have a great reputation in Singapore, but in many cases, there is a real disconnect between the regard in which they are held and citizens’ perceptions of the services they receive,” according to Blackbox Research.

Notwithstanding the above, Mr Sardana stressed that the PSXI is not designed to measure performance but to track digitalisation journeys.

He said the scores should be read with certain external factors in mind, such as the nature of the services rendered by an agency, the wide range of populations it serves are likely to have a significant bearing on the scores, regardless of how digitally enabled an agency may be.

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