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How enhanced Certificate of Service for NS can help employers

The global business environment is facing many challenges, from digital disruptions that are changing the nature of work and the skillsets required to survive to increasing competition for a slice of the international marketplace.

How enhanced Certificate of Service for NS can help employers

The enhanced Certificate of Service for national servicemen creates a good opportunity for employers to develop a better understanding of NS as an institution and the experiences of their employees. TODAY file photo

The global business environment is facing many challenges, from digital disruptions that are changing the nature of work and the skillsets required to survive to increasing competition for a slice of the international marketplace.

As an employer looking to succeed amid this fluid environment, finding, attracting and retaining the right talent will continue to be a key challenge to success.

We face a number of difficult questions when we are hiring: do the potential hires possess the aptitude, attitude and skills we are looking for? Do they have commitment and integrity? Is hiring them financially sustainable for the business?

With this in mind, I welcome the government’s move at the beginning of this year to provide those who have completed their full-time National Service (NS) an enhanced Certificate of Service (COS) to reflect the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) gained during the two years of NS.

Employers will now be able to use the information contained in the COS to gain greater insight into NSmen’s contributions and the roles they undertook during their NS, their achievements, and any character attributes that were observed by their supervisors.

The last bit of information may be particularly useful given how NS usually brings out the best and worst of men.

I run a young start-up electronic trading services firm with an entrepreneurial team of five staff, with two of them being NSmen. As an NS Mark company, we are constantly looking at improving our workplace practices to better support our employees as they continue to fulfil their NS commitments.

In a welcome role reversal, the enhanced COS is a way that the NS experience of my staff in turn enables us to deploy them in ways to benefit the company significantly.

These NSmen have, over the course of their work, tapped on the skills and competencies that they have honed during NS to the benefit of the company. One skill I have observed is the ability to take charge, assess and accommodate for different scenarios. Those who have undergone NS will share a laugh knowing that last-minute changes in a military environment are not uncommon, and this has prepared us well in the civilian working world.

Hence, it is the firm belief of our company that NS, as a rite of passage for Singaporean men, can be beneficial towards their professional development.

With the business environment evolving more rapidly than in the past, employers are growing increasingly aware of the need for efficiency and adaptability in their operating models to thrive.

I believe that the addition of WSQ-accredited skills represents a real boost to the hiring process of companies like mine, not only because it enables us to form more well-rounded assessments and identify the right talent early on, but also allows us to integrate them into our system more quickly.

I also appreciate that I can now reference a potential hire’s NS contributions and assess if they have demonstrated team-work, integrity, leadership and other key attributes through their commanders’ appraisals. This is critical in allowing both employers and employees to find the best fit when it comes to building the optimal workplace environment.

While it is a step in the right direction, employers have yet to catch on to the advantages of using the transcript during the hiring process. Although the COS provides a list of appointments, courses attended, NS milestones and a commander’s appraisal, there is still some difficulty for many of us to translate what that experience means to the private sector.

For those of us who have undergone the NS rite of passage, we may be familiar with what these roles or achievements mean. However, there are many other employers, such as those from multinational companies, who may simply avoid using the COS because they may perceive that the skills acquired are only applicable or useful in a military environment.

The COS has the potential to act as a quick supplementary guide for hirers. Hence, it can be improved by drawing clearer links between the kind of WSQ employability skills acquired and each course or role undertaken. There may be useful practices that we can adopt from NSmen’s experiences and put to use in our everyday operations.

One such example is when I hired an NSman for a junior position and one of the things that I learned from his NS vocation as a transport operator was the meticulous First Parade Task that he undertook before setting out on his duties every day. This involved inspecting the operating conditions of the vehicle before starting to drive it.

We decided to implement this “First Parade Task” concept in my company as well. This translates into inspecting the operating conditions of my company’s advanced information technology equipment and network systems we use prior to commencing business operations and also at end of day, so we have a good sense of whether they will work well, or require additional preparation or maintenance before being used. It has proven so useful that we have now added it to our company-wide standard operating procedure.

The enhanced COS creates a good opportunity for employers to develop a better understanding of NS as an institution and the experiences of their employees. This in turn allows employers to feel a deeper involvement and contribution to the overall defence of Singapore.

The new enhanced COS initiative means that the skills acquired by NSmen during their time in service will not only contribute to a stronger defence for Singapore, but will also benefit our economy by equipping them to be better employees when they join the workforce.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Neo Say Wei is the Chief Executive Officer of Neo & Partners Global Private Limited, a recipient of the NS Advocate Award for Small and Medium Enterprises at the Total Defence Awards 2017. He has extended his NS under the Reservist on Voluntary Extended Reserve Scheme and was awarded the SAF National Service Medal - 15 years Clasp in 2016.

 

 

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