Singapore

NSmen get a leg up with WSQ scheme

A total of 23 courses conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are now accredited under the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) scheme, a move aimed at giving national servicemen a leg-up in their future careers.

These courses include the Basic Military Training (BMT) for recruits except for commando or naval diver trainees, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) yesterday.

In all, more than 96 per cent of full-time national servicemen (NSFs) who enlist from this January will receive the WSQ annually.

The move to accredit SAF courses under the WSQ is to recognise that servicemen attain leadership, technical and specialist skills that meet professional standards accepted by industries, Second Defence Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday.

"In fact, the teamwork we learn in NS is very much better than most commercial courses on teamwork," he added.

The WSQ is a national training framework that trains and certifies individuals in skills that are valued by employers.

Under the framework, workers gain qualifications ranging from certificates to advanced diplomas.

Those who do not get a full qualification will get a statement of attainment (SOA) for each module they complete.

For instance, an NSF with a Physical Employment Status (PES) of A or B will get two SOAs under the Employability Skills WSQ framework after completing BMT.

Commanders will receive additional accreditation for their leadership skills.

Mr Ong also listed how the military would make its soldiers fitter and provide safer training, as he described NSmen as "our most precious resource in the SAF".

He announced a new Centre for Excellence for Soldier Performance that will be up by the end of the year.

It will focus on developing fitness regimes, soldier nutrition studies, injury prevention programmes and rehabilitation regimes to help injured national servicemen recover.

It will also look into enhancing the mental strength of soldiers.

Mr Ong, who is also Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), updated the House on a review of the SAF's safety system by an external panel of safety experts that began in October 2013.

The panel completed its work recently and reported that the SAF's health and safety system is one of the best internationally, he said.

But there are also a few areas for improvement, such as the need to strengthen the safety culture in SAF units and further promote open reporting of near-miss incidents.

The SAF has accepted the panel's findings and will improve on these areas, Mr Ong said.

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