“Vocations that could benefit from this move include signal operators, soldiers who serve as transport operators and those in the medical field, such as SAF combat medics” (Accreditation For Skills Picked Up During NS In The Works: MINDEF, Kelly Ng).
The well-intentioned move to provide accreditation for skills, such as “leadership, technical, and specialist skills picked up over … [the] two-year National Service (NS) stints” (TODAY, Jul. 1), seeks to minimise the disruption caused by the NS obligation, and could be useful not just for those who move into the civilian workforce, but perhaps also for those who apply to the universities. Yet the effectiveness of the initiative is less clear, and whether industry employers will be receptive is not guaranteed. Moreover besides the convenient vocations of signals, transportation, and medical services for instance – wherein arrangements might already be in place for some – the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) risks side-lining others.
In this vein, it would make sense to evaluate past endeavours. While not exactly similar, the tangential initiative might be the e-PREP scheme, which was introduced “for full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) to take up online preparatory and refresher courses while in service [to] facilitate their transit from full-time National Service (NS) to further studies or the workforce”. NSFs use allocated training credits to purchase these courses. Questions can therefore be asked. How many courses are provided, across how many institutions? Since its inception what is the take-up rate, what are the most popular courses, and what are the challenges if enrolment rates have been less than ideal? Has the feedback from participants been positive, and how does MINDEF ascertain whether e-PREP has been effective thus far?
MINDEF recognises the inconveniences experienced by NSFs after they complete their stints, and is eager to go beyond antiquated career and education fairs. Which is great news, after the recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen NS last year. Before the accreditation though, some scepticism and evaluation of the past will be beneficial.