Singapore's government-run jobs portal, MyCareersFuture, will be getting an AI overhaul in the coming months. At the Singapore FinTech Festival on 8 November, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the launch of a National AI Programme in Government to improve how public sector services are delivered through AI - including refining the job-matching capabilities of MyCareersFuture.
"This is particularly salient during the pandemic, where many have been displaced and are looking to switch to other industries," Heng said. "We are using AI to develop more personalised jobs and skills recommendations. Based on our pilot, this new tool has improved total job placements by 20 per cent."
MyCareersFuture, originally launched in 2014 as JobsBank and then overhauled to its present name and appearance in 2018, has had a spotty track record over the last few years. Workforce Singapore, the government agency running the site, has said in the past it is unable to provide figures on job-matching and placement rates, because employers do not necessarily update the outcomes of job postings.
But the portal has been criticised by users for not fully catering to the needs of PMETs. In past years, the bulk of job postings on it have been for blue-collar jobs. Meanwhile, white-collar job roles have received a disproportionately large number of applications, suggesting that there's a mismatch between what's posted and what users are looking for.
While some things can't be changed even by improved AI - the numbers of jobs available and the requirements for those jobs, for example - the portal's ability to direct users to jobs matching their skills profile could definitely use an upgrade.
Similarly, it would be interesting to see if AI can tackle a different issue that MyCareersFuture has encountered: that of giving fair consideration to Singaporean candidates. In recent years, a groundsurge of complaints that employers were passing over Singaporean jobseekers in favour of cheaper foreign applicants led the Ministry of Manpower to use the portal as a way to gatekeep jobs for Singaporeans. Employers are required to post job listings on it for at least 14 days before they can seek foreign candidates. The portal is only accessible to Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and those already holding work passes.
However, the problem persisted right up to the start of the pandemic, with public feedback suggesting that unscrupulous employers were going through the motions of making the job postings and rejecting all applicants until the 14-day requirement had been met. Can AI solve that problem? It remains to be seen.