Saturday, 10 September 2016

NS pre-enlistees can pick from 33 vocations

Those enlisting in November 2017 will be the first who can indicate their preferences
By Fabian Koh, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2016

Young men starting national service in November next year will be able to choose from 33 vocations across the Singapore Armed Forces, police and civil defence. Only the commando and naval diving units, whose requirements are more stringent, can't be picked.

More details on this were released yesterday after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced in July that the interests of new enlistees will be considered in assigning NS vocations, alongside factors such as physical fitness, suitability to perform tasks and operational needs.

The 33 available vocations, from armour and fire and rescue to dog handling, will be grouped into seven categories.

Pre-enlistees, who cannot choose whether they go into the SAF, police or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), have to pick at least two choices from each category, or 14 choices in all. They may also indicate that they have no specific interest.

Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) enlisting in November next year will be the first to indicate their vocation preferences.

They will do so when reporting to the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) in November for pre-enlistment procedures. They get to state their choices when they take the computerised aptitude test during the pre-enlistment medical screening.

They will receive their vocation posting after their basic training.

The CMPB takes in more than 20,000 enlistees a year over intakes in November, February, May and August.

Mr Jordan Low, 17, will go for his NS medical screening on Nov 11.

The first-year student at Anderson Junior College likes the idea of being able to state his vocational interests, as it will make him and his peers "more positive" about NS.

To help pre-enlistees decide, 19 videos by current national servicemen and a handbook will be launched on the CMPB website on Sunday. They will highlight the roles and responsibilities of each vocation and the training involved.

Said Colonel Yew Chee Leung, assistant chief of general staff (personnel) of the army: "The whole intent of this initiative is to encourage greater ownership by our servicemen in the roles they will play during NS."

However, he emphasised that the operational needs of the vocations still take priority as the key consideration in the deployment of NSFs.

Mr Rupert Gwee, director of NS Affairs at the Ministry of Home Affairs, said: "This initiative... will further encourage our Home Team national servicemen to take greater ownership of their contributions in ensuring Singapore's safety and security."

Should enlistees not get their preferred vocation and file appeals, these will be looked at case by case. However, there is a low chance they will be redeployed from the originally assigned vocations.


Choosing an NS vocation - with help from dad and uncles
New enlistment initiative provides new way for dads to share experiences with their sons
By Fabian Koh, The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2016

Fathers have found an unprecedented role in the new initiative to let future national servicemen indicate their vocational interests, as the move gives fresh impetus to share their knowledge and experiences with their sons.

Starting November, pre-enlistees can make their vocational interests known during their medical check-up - choosing from 33 vocations.

On Sunday, the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) released on its website 19 videos and a handbook with detailed write-ups on these vocations.

The initiative presents "an opportunity" for more conversation about NS between fathers and sons, said defence analyst Ho Shu Huang from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

"While it does come down to each family's dynamics, there might be more to talk about as vocational choices now need to be indicated and decisions therefore made."

While a father's NS vocation experience might be different and outdated, such a conversation might lead to others about NS in general, he said.

Some sons are looking to their fathers in other ways to make the decision about vocations.

First-year Anderson Junior College student Jordan Low, 17, who will be going for his medical screening on Nov 11, hopes to follow in his father's footsteps.

"All sons look up to their dads, and I look up to mine, too. My dad was in Guards. I heard it is quite tough."

While he says he does not have much knowledge about the various vocations, he intends to go online to find out.

"I'll ask my seniors who are already in the army, as their information will be the most raw and current.

" But I'll also speak to my dad and uncles for advice."

His father Thomas Low, 47, said that while he tells his son about his own NS days, he does not know what has changed since.

The regional service director, who did his 21/2-year stint from 1990, said: "I can share my experiences with him, and it could have an impact on his vocational choices."

Real estate salesman Bernard Wu, 45, also believes the new initiative is "worth exploring".

He entered NS in 1993 and tells his son, first-year Hwa Chong Junior College student Brandon, about his experiences.

Seventeen-year-old Brandon said: "I would prefer to go to a vocation which is more physical. I don't want to be a clerk."

Puay Sam Yu, 17, a first-year student at Hwa Chong Junior College, knows what he wants to avoid choosing for his NS stint.

"Just steer clear of the waters can already," he said with a laugh.

He would prefer either the air force, or the infantry, which he has heard is where most people go.

"I will ask my dad and uncles for their opinion. But I think it would have changed quite a bit from their time. Nonetheless, it's good to have their advice."

His father, regional sales director Puay Eng Chuan, 49, thinks NS was very different in his days.

"It is different now with more welfare and professional training."

Mr Puay, who entered NS in 1986 and later became an infantry officer, agreed that sharing his experiences with his son is a bonding opportunity.

His son, who has not yet received the call-up letter for his medical screening, said: "His stories would affect my decision, as the general job scope for most vocations shouldn't have changed too much."

The videos and the handbook on the CMPB website can be found at


Update on the Committee to Strengthen National Service Initiative: Indicating NS Vocation Interest

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