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70% of NSFs assigned to vocation they indicated interest in; 'not practical' for scheme to be extended to NSmen

SINGAPORE —  Seven in 10 full-time national servicemen (NSFs) deployed between 2018 and 2021 have been assigned to a vocation among those where they indicated an interest, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday (March 3). 

Recruits undergoing training at the Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong.

Recruits undergoing training at the Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong.

SINGAPORE —  Seven in 10 full-time national servicemen (NSFs) deployed between 2018 and 2021 have been assigned to a vocation among those where they indicated an interest, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday (March 3). 

However, there is no plan to expand the preference indication scheme to operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

Dr Ng was responding to questions filed by Mr Yip Hon Weng, Member of Parliament for Yio Chu Kang, who asked how many pre-enlistees entering National Service (NS) are granted their vocation choices and how does the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) balance the need to be universal and fair when assigning vocations while ensuring the best match of skill sets.

Mr Yip also asked what Mindef does to improve the appeal of less popular vocations and whether the scheme can be extended to NSmen "who wish to utilise their newly obtained skill sets for their reservist training".    

The scheme, announced in 2016, allows those enlisting at the end of 2017 onwards to indicate their interest in any of more than 30 vocations in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force. They are not required to rank their choices. 

It is part of efforts to encourage NSFs to take greater ownership of their responsibilities while performing their mandatory NS. 

Dr Ng said that Mindef has made efforts to help pre-enlistees appreciate the nature of all vocations and their importance to SAF, especially for less popular choices.

This is done through videos on various vocations that are available on the Central Manpower Base's website.

"While the NSF's choice, ability and suitability to perform the tasks required of different vocations are taken into account, the operational requirements of the SAF remain as the primary consideration in the deployment of NSFs."

For NSmen who perform their duties for only a few weeks a year, it would not be practical or efficient to take into account their preferences in such a manner, Dr Ng explained. 

Instead, those with relevant technical skills in domains such as cybersecurity and info-communications will be redeployed to more suitable operational roles under a separate scheme.

This scheme is now run by the SAF’s Expertise Deployment Centre, which was set up in 2021. 

Around 400 NSmen with relevant expertise have been redeployed to new roles over the past eight years. 

“To achieve better matching for redeployment, the SAF will also be encouraging NSmen to update their post-NS education, training and job experience through the NS Portal and at other touchpoints,” Dr Ng added. 

Related topics

National Service Mindef Singapore Armed Forces NSmen vocation SAF

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