Friday 23 October 2015

SAF's referral bonus is a hit

1 in 4 candidates recommended by SAF regulars is hired
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2015

A move to give cash incentives to servicemen who refer potential recruits to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is proving to be a hit, with one in four of the more than 100 referrals hired over the past year.

The SAF scheme, which was launched in July last year to recruit more women and mid-career professionals, pays out a $500 cash bonus for every successful referral.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said the scheme complements its recruitment efforts to reach out to the likes of former career soldiers and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

Regulars 'can serve as SAF promoters'

Calling the referral bonus a "token of appreciation", MINDEF told The Straits Times that the referral programme "provides an avenue for our regulars to serve as ambassadors of MINDEF/SAF and play an active role in the recruitment within their respective social circles".

"Regulars who have an influence on the recruitment, selection and hiring process, as well as those in senior appointments, are not eligible for the bonus," said MINDEF.

The referral bonus will be paid only if the referred candidate stays in service for at least six months. Those who have referred candidates cannot be serving notice at the point of the payout.

MINDEF added that there is a cap on the amount of referral bonus an individual can receive per financial year, although it did not elaborate.

The scheme comes as the SAF ramps up efforts to beef up its manpower with mid-career professionals and women. It needs to ensure it can still mobilise about 300,000 soldiers from regulars, full-time national servicemen (NSFs) and NSmen.

Today, about 20,000 men are enlisted for national service every year, but this is expected to shrink to about 15,000 a year in future as the birth rate declines.

Navy chief Lai Chung Han, who is one of the senior military officers spearheading such efforts, said in an interview earlier this year that those who choose to trade their office wear for military fatigues will enjoy a "full career".

Offering bonuses for referrals is a common practice in business.

Some agencies in the public sector have also implemented such bonus schemes. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), for instance, started a scheme in 2008 to offer its scholarship holders $500 for every student or colleague they refer successfully for a scholarship with the government agency.

The United States Army had a referral bonus programme that paid US$2,000 (S$2,780) for successful referrals. But the scheme, which was launched in 2006 at the height of the Iraq war, was suspended three years later amid allegations that people were abusing the system and getting illegal payouts.

All things considered, hiring one in four of those who have been referred is a good hit rate for the SAF, said recruitment experts.

Mr Paul Heng, managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said the incentive scheme will ensure that the military has a higher chance of finding a "better fit" for its fighting force.

"The person referring a candidate will be able to be the first line of screening for someone who can... do the job, " he said.

Madam Goh Mei Lan is 41, the mother of an 11-year-old boy, and training to be an army engineer.
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mum trades sales job for military career
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2015

Having worked in a sales job in the private sector for more than 20 years, Madam Goh Mei Lan decided to seek her second wind in the military. "I felt I was stagnating... I needed a change and to do something that would challenge me," said the 41-year-old, who has an 11-year-old son. She traded her corporate wear for military fatigues at the start of this year and is now training to be an army engineer.

Madam Goh is one of 50 mid-career professionals hired by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) between last April and March this year as part of efforts to boost its ranks amid declining birth rates.

As the oldest woman to be recruited as a combat soldier, Madam Goh said her journey has not been easy. "All the people around me were very young women who were fitter ," she said.

But she held her own in training.

"I was not the slowest during our runs or combat training. I also had previous work experience and could teach them how to cope with the workload," she said.

Colonel Francis Kee Eng Chye, who heads the SAF's Joint Manpower Department, is targeting those who want to make a mid-career switch as "they bring with them valuable skills and knowledge into the organisation".

He added: "They can join us at different stages of their working life as we develop them into leaders of our nation's defence... to realise their full potential."

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