Second Defence Minister Ong Ye Kung revealed in in Parliament at the Ministry of Defence’s Committee of Supply debate on last Friday (3 March) that 96 percent of national servicemen (NSFs) who enlisted from January will receive Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) accreditation annually.
The Minister stressed that the move is part of a drive to enhance the value of NS, including teamwork and effective communications, as well as easing the servicemen’s transition back to studies or the workplace.
Mr Ong stated that there is a total of 23 courses conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), including the Basic Military Training (BMT) for most recruits, which are now accredited under the WSQ scheme.
He said that NSFs could receive accreditation, ranging from a certificate to an advanced diploma, adding that those who earn WSQ accreditation may choose to do extra WSQ courses of their own accord to reach a higher level of certification. Even if the NSFs do not get a full qualification, they would get a statement of attainment (SOA) for each module they complete.
While commanders would get additional accreditation for leadership skills.
WSQ, the national system that trains and certifies individuals in skills that are valued by employers, is designed to recognise that during NS, servicemen attain leadership, technical, and specialist skills that meet professional standards accepted by industries.
The Minister stated that MINDEF has implemented the Vocation Interest initiative to promote greater personal ownership by NSFs over their NS experience.
“Since November last year, pre-enlistees have indicated their interest in 33 vocations across the SAF, Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, he said.
He noted that their indicated interest will be an additional factor in determining their vocations, together with other considerations such as suitability, manpower and operational requirements.
However, he pointed that there is some perception that enlistees, fresh out of school, and when asked to indicate their vocation interest, will avoid the very ‘siong’ vocations like Infantry and Guards, and that they will pick non-combat vocations that are more related to their area of studies.
“That has actually not been the SAF’s experience, which is that most enlistees today want to contribute to the best of their abilities, and sweat it out if possible. So, in the latest enlistment exercise, 60% of pre-enlistees indicated interest in Infantry and Guards,” Mr Ong. They know that the training is ‘
“They know that the training is ‘siong’, but good for them,” he added.
Mr Ong, who is also Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), stated that MINDEF has been working with SkillsFuture Singapore under the Ministry of Education on this initiative.
He noted that these achievements will be reflected in the enhanced Certificate of Service given to NSFs on their Operationally Ready Date. By 2018, the Certificate will be made more comprehensive to include additional achievements such as awards, commendations and milestones – that an NSF acquires during their service, their full-time NS.
However, the Minister stressed that while accrediting skills learnt in NS is a useful enhancement of the NS experience, this is neither the main objective nor the key takeaway of NS.
He said that NS fulfils the obligation and accords the honour of contributing to the defence of our country, adding that the lasting benefits are the development of character and resilience, and the camaraderie and friendships forged with fellow NSmen.
“Ultimately, the fact that someone has completed NS well demonstrates his commitment and dedication. Especially in a challenging unit that stretches his abilities, this should speak for itself, and should be valued and recognised by the whole society, including employers,” he added.