Pre-enlistees can signal interest in 33 NS vocations from November

Pre-enlistees can signal interest in 33 NS vocations from November
NS enlistees starting their pre-enlistment procedures at the Registration and Enlistment Centre at the Central Manpower Base (these enlistees are not affected by the new Vocation Interest Initiative). Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY
Excluded from options are elite forces such as commandos and naval divers
Published: 6:00 PM, September 8, 2016
Updated: 10:58 PM, September 8, 2016

SINGAPORE — From handling dogs in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to taking part in fire-and-rescue efforts in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), National Service pre-enlistees who begin their stint in November next year will be able to indicate their interest in 33 vocations, if they wish to do so.

These recruits will be the first to able to pick six options from 15 vocations in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), and four each from 10 SPF vocations and eight SCDF vocations.

Excluded from the options are elite forces such as commandos and naval divers, roles that have a more stringent selection criteria.

The first batch of pre-enlistees will get to express their interest during their pre-enlistment medical screening at the Central Manpower Base from November this year. 

Factoring in the vocation interests of full-time national servicemen (NSFs) was one of the 30 recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen NS in May 2014. 

In an interview in June this year, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stressed that operational requirements would remain a key consideration during postings, although his ministry would try to match NSFs to vocations based on their interests and aptitudes. 

Speaking to the media on Wednesday (Sept 7), Colonel Yew Chee Leung, Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Personnel), said this initiative would encourage greater ownership among NSFs and create a more positive experience for them on the whole.

“However, we’re mindful that operational requirements still take priority and, really, the operational needs of the services should be the primary consideration to deploy our servicemen,” said Col Yew. 

“But we do believe that every vocation plays a role in NS, and our servicemen will learn valuable skills in NS regardless of the vocations they’re deployed to, and they can contribute in meaningful ways to the defence of Singapore.”

Mr Rupert Gwee, director of the National Service Affairs Directorate at the Ministry of Home Affairs, added: “This initiative to allow pre-enlistees to indicate interest in various NS vocations will further encourage our Home Team national servicemen to take greater ownership of their contributions in ensuring Singapore’s safety and security.”

Information on all 33 vocations, in the form of videos and a handbook, will be made available on from this Sunday. 

Central Manpower Base commander, Colonel Koh Chia Chee, appealed to pre-enlistees to visit the website to be better informed.

“We’d also like to encourage parents to watch the videos with their sons because … parents might want to know that vocations have gone through lots of changes, and the vocation they know from their time might be quite different from what they have now,” he said. 

Postings will be released after they complete their basic training, and they can choose to appeal if they wish. Appeals against postings, however, are infrequent. 

Hidayat Shariff, 18, currently in his second year at Temasek Polytechnic, hopes to pick neighbourhood policing in the SPF as his choice vocation. 

“If I’m given a chance to choose and I get it, that will make my two years (in NS) more bearable.” He added that he would be referring to Mindef’s online materials to learn more about the various 

First-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Lin Junheng, 17, noted that operational needs should supercede personal interests in terms of postings. 

“Ultimately, (Mindef) needs to put people where manpower is needed. It’s for the sake of our country. We can’t necessarily put our own interests over that of the nation’s. 

“But if the Government puts me in something that’s not in my (indicated) options, I’m fine with it,” he said, adding that he was interested in logistics in the SCDF.