SINGAPORE - A new road map that charts the future of social service agencies here in digitalising and leveraging technology to better serve those in need was launched on Wednesday (July 14).
The Industry Digital Plan for Social Services was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli at the Social Service Summit, held virtually with more than 800 social service professionals, companies, donors and government representatives in attendance.
The road map aims to advance the sector's digital capabilities progressively over three years and includes guidance on technology adoption, increasing digital and data literacy and identifying gaps and opportunities for digitalisation.
Mr Masagos said the sector needs to ride the wave of digitalisation that Covid-19 has thrust upon the world.
"While we are a 'high-touch' sector, just like doctors with their patients, the use of technology need not cause us to lose the personal connection in our interactions with our service users," he said.
"Instead, proper use of technology can help us improve the way we work and maximise the impact for service users. For example, the use of speech-to-text technology to record case notes frees up time for practitioners to focus more on their clients."
The summit was organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) to get participants to exchange ideas and collaborate in building a future-ready social service sector.
At the summit, NCSS president Anita Fam also launched an empowerment guide for social service agencies.
Empowering service users increases their independence, which leads to improved quality of life, and calls for self-responsibility and less reliance on external resources.
The guide offers practical tools and approaches to break down the concept of empowerment into something more relatable that social service agencies can adopt in their operations.
Ms Fam said: "I highly encourage all social service leaders and practitioners to use the practical steps listed in the guide to start your own empowerment journey. By doing so, you will find that service delivery will improve.
"The journey to empowerment is a collective dynamic effort, ever-changing, so we need to walk this journey together."
In her speech, Ms Fam also outlined the future of the social service sector after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sector will need to accelerate digitalisation, find new ways of fund-raising and innovate in ways of service delivery.
It also has to get volunteers to complement and augment its manpower, as well as enhance leadership capability.
Ms Fam said a learning and development road map for volunteer management practitioners will be launched in August.
It will guide volunteer management practitioners on the skills and competencies required to effectively carry out their roles and optimise volunteer resources in meeting the needs of the service users in the community.