Mindef and MHA say NS boosts starting pay while many think employers prefer people with no NS

In a joint letter to ST Forum today (14 Oct), Colonel Adrian Teng, Head of National Service Affairs Department in MINDEF and Rupert Gwee, Director of National Service Affairs Directorate in the Home Affair Ministry, assured the public that Singaporeans who went through NS do get a higher starting pay when they started work.

They were replying to a member of the public talking about boosting pay of NSmen who are about to start on their first job.

Colonel Teng and Director Gwee quoted “recent findings” from the Graduate Employment Survey conducted by the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education to show that their graduates who began their first job after NS received a higher median monthly starting salary, drawing between $200 and $500 more than those who did not serve NS.

“Employers continue to show strong support for NS and recognise the contributions of our operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen),” the two said.

“Employers are encouraged to recognise the contributions of our NSmen and support them through NS-friendly human resource policies and practices.”

The government also launched the “NS Mark” accreditation scheme 3 years ago to recognise employers who support NS, they added.

“The NS Mark has been awarded to employers who have supported NS by considering the skills that full-time national servicemen acquire during NS in their hiring process; offering higher starting salaries and additional days of annual leave for NSmen; considering NS performance during in-camp training in job performance appraisals; and promoting a healthy work-life-NS balance to better enable NSmen to fulfil their commitments.”

There is also the Total Defence Award which recognises employers and members of the community for their contributions towards NS.

“We thank Singaporeans for their continued support for NS and remain committed to working with employers and the business community to further strengthen recognition of our NSmen,” Colonel Teng and Director Gwee concluded their letter.

Meanwhile, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) some years ago, nearly half (42.1%) of employed Singaporean NSmen believe that employers tend to prefer to hire people who do not have NS commitments.

IPS research fellow Leong Chan-Hoong remarked that it could be because some industries need more responsiveness and dedication on the part of their employees.

“But let’s not get carried away,” he said. “Two out of five is not a majority, and this is a preference rating. There are many factors beside NS obligation.”