Digital uplift

AI can play a key role in delivering effective solutions for the communities we serve.

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There are a number of examples across NSW Government where AI innovation is leading to improved customer outcomes, and some of these are outlined in the case studies section of this Strategy. However, there is an overall need to raise digital capability across the NSW public sector, including in the understanding of and use of AI.

The Public Service Commission (the Commission) is the Government agency responsible for the public sector workforce and its culture, accountability and integrity. Its role is to ensure the overall capability of the NSW Government workforce can consistently deliver strategic and innovative policy and operational advice and meet the high expectations of our customers.

The Commission is developing a high value program to prepare the NSW Public Service workforce for the future. One element of this is raising digital capability, including for enabling technologies like AI.

The NSW Government has selected a world recognised framework, the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) as the occupation specific capability set for ICT professionals in the public sector. The NSW Public Sector Capability Framework and SFIA are used together to define capabilities required of the ICT workforce and provide a common set of expectations of ICT professionals across the sector.

This Strategy provides an opportunity to test whether SFIA needs to be updated to reflect skills required for AI.

What we heard

During consultation we heard that government needs to work harder on building internal capability and understanding of how AI solutions can deliver better outcomes. The key messages were:

  • The public sector needs to know enough about AI solutions to make informed decisions on how to build, maintain and best use AI systems

There are a range of capabilities required to make best use of AI – from an understanding of its potential at the executive decision-making level, to deep AI and data analysis expertise to get the best from the AI solutions government procures. Opportunities may be missed without these capabilities and implementation of AI solutions may not realise their full potential.

  • Government needs strong competency to implement and manage AI in the longer term and collect and analyse AI-informed data. Once government has those competencies, it needs to create the right environment to retain that talent

Project teams wanting to use AI-enabled technology should be multidisciplinary and involve those with specific AI expertise (i.e. data analysts, programmers). Collaboration with academia offers significant opportunities to source and retain talent.

  • Government must have confidence in its ability to understand what the right AI solution is (or even if AI is the best solution) and how the technology works

Capability is not just about technical ability and deep knowledge of the technology. It is also about equipping senior decision-makers with the fundamentals to understand AI’s potential and its risks. The capability is required for the integration of AI into public service delivery and should be incorporated into our overall digital uplift program.

Actions

 

 
Action Responsibility Timeframe
Leverage the ICT Professionals Community of Practice for professional development on emerging technologies like AI ICT CoP Ongoing
Engage with the SFIA foundation regarding updating its framework to include AI-related technical capabilities PSC Q1 2021
Leverage case studies to inform skills requirements related to AI capabilities and workforce planning PSC/DCS Q1 2021
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