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Public Service resignations up in 2021, with attrition rate for management exec scheme reaching 10-year high

SINGAPORE — The public service here has seen an increase in attrition rate across the board, with the turnover rate for its management executive scheme, comprising graduate officers, reaching a 10-year peak of 9.9 per cent last year.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister-in-charge of the public service, said the Information Communication Technology segment of the public service is facing an “even higher” resignation rate.
Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister-in-charge of the public service, said the Information Communication Technology segment of the public service is facing an “even higher” resignation rate.
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  • There has been an increase in resignation rate across the board for the Public Service
  • The turnover rate for the management executive scheme reached a 10-year peak in 2021
  • The Public Service’s Information Communication Technology sector has an “even higher” resignation rate, the Minister-in-charge of the Public Service said 
  • Job, pay, professional opportunities and the pressures of Covid-19 were some reasons for the higher turnover, he added
  • The resignation rate in the Public Service could increase with more job offers from the private sector as the economy recovers

SINGAPORE — The Public Service has seen an increase in its resignation rate across the board, with the turnover rate for its management executive scheme, comprising graduate officers, reaching a 10-year peak of 9.9 per cent last year.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, the Minister-in-charge of the Public Service said in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 15) that the resignation rate for the scheme “clearly” picked up momentum in the last six months.

Officers in the management executive scheme are deployed across all ministries for job roles such as policy making, administration and line operations. The Public Service includes employees in the Civil Service as well as the statutory boards. 

Additionally, the information communication technology (ICT) segment of the Public Service is facing an “even higher” resignation rate in light of the talent shortage in this sector, Mr Chan said, though he did not provide figures on the overall resignation rate.

Mr Chan, who is also the Education Minister, said that there were several factors contributing to the increased attrition rate in the Public Service. These include job pressures, pay and opportunities for professional development and progression. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also been a factor in the last two years, Mr Chan said.

“In particular, over the past two years, public officers have had to face intense pressure working tirelessly to sustain the fight against Covid-19," he added.

"At times, they also have to deal with anxious and even demanding members of the public in the course of their Covid-19-related work. The shift to remote work has also blurred the lines between work and life."

As the economy recovers, there is a risk of a further increase in attrition in the Public Service as job offers from the private sector start to rise as well.

Mr Chan was responding to a question posed by Mr Patrick Tay, a Member of Parliament (MP) for West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), on the attrition rate in the public service.

Mr Tay also wanted to know about efforts to look after the health and welfare of public service officers, and what the Government was doing to ensure that their compensation and benefits remain competitive.

To this, Mr Chan said that the Public Service will continue to help its officers relate their work and contributions to the core purpose of serving Singapore and Singaporeans.

At the same time, the Public Service has also stepped up efforts to support the health and mental well-being of its officers such as through regular webinars on well-being and introducing a counselling helpline.

The salaries and benefits of public officers will be reviewed and adjusted “where necessary” to keep pace with the market, Mr Chan said.

In response to Mr Tay’s supplementary question on whether any government ministries, statutory boards or key essential services are operating at a critical manning level, Mr Chan said that the general manning level of the Public Service “is still healthy”.

However, he raised the concern of “localised shortages” within the Public Service and said that officers will have to be redeployed accordingly to maintain the required standards of service.

He also raised concerns over the Public Service’s ability to improve its system and processes for the future, especially in the area of ICT, as projects in this segment require sufficient quantity and quality of personnel.

“And given the hot market in the private sector for ICT talent, there is indeed a big challenge for us to get our fair share of talent,” Mr Chan said.

Mr Pritam Singh, the Leader of the Opposition and MP for Aljunied GRC, asked how the Government would attract ICT talent to the public sector going forward.

To this, Mr Chan said that the Government is doing so in three ways.

The first is to recruit its fair share of talent from the open market by offering meaningful and fulfilling projects for hires “over and above a competitive pay”.

Second, the Public Service is helping its officers to upgrade their ICT skills so that more of them can take on some of the ICT tasks required in the public sector.

Third, the Public Service is “rationalising” the way it demands ICT manpower. For example, it is aggregating projects of similar nature where possible to save costs and reduce demand on ICT manpower, Mr Chan added.

“So through these various multi-pronged strategies, we hope to have a holistic arrangement to meet the ICT needs for our Public Service going forward.”

Related topics

public service Chan Chun Sing ICT resignation Jobs

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