Developing digital competencies for civil servants in Latin America

The public sector is leveraging digital technologies to design and implement public policies, engage with citizens and improve the delivery of public services. However, to build an enabling environment for digital transformation and face the challenges of digital era governance, civil servants require a new set of skills and competencies for the future.
Digital transformation

UNESCO and Open Data Latin American Initiative (ILDA) organized two workshops with experts from Latin America to discuss digital transformation and AI-related competencies needed by civil servants in the region.

Digital Transformation in Latin America

Workshop participants underlined that for successful digital transformation, policymakers must first identify, define, and contextualize social problems instead of initiating digital transformation projects without clear identification of the purpose they serve. This process of problem identification and definition should build upon data and insights from previous experiences in public sector digital transformation.

The participants highlighted that a major hurdle to achieving digital transformation in Latin America is the stiff competition that the public sector faces in hiring and retaining the talent needed for digital transformation projects. In addition, participants also acknowledged the low level of coordination between different arms of the government. They emphasized that in addition to coordination across different parts of the government, even within smaller units public servants need to work as a team, with each team member bringing different skill sets that contribute to the broader digital transformation effort.

What competencies will the civil servants of the future need?

Looking ahead, participants noted the following two digital competencies as most important for public officials to acquire:

  1. User centricity: Ability to take into consideration and practice the user experience on digital public policies
  2. Data driven policy/data use: Capacity to mine, analyse and use data in the decision-making process


The UN Broadband Commission’s Working Group on AI Capacity Building is developing a Digital Competency Framework for Civil Servants through a series of global and multi-stakeholder consultations.

These workshops are part of a series of global and multi-stakeholder consultations to design the Digital Transformation and AI Competency Framework for Civil Servants. As an open resource, the Competency Framework will be context-sensitive and adaptable for use to support capacity building for civil services across ICT Ministries and Digital Units in governments.

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