Singapore

Full-time workers taking on security guard jobs to supplement income

Full-time workers going through training as back-up plan

Mr Mohamed Sameer, a 30-year-old junior officer on a ship, spends two weeks at sea before returning to shore for two weeks of rest.

He wants to use those two weeks of downtime to supplement his income by working as a relief security guard for eight days, earning about $100 to $120 daily.

But he has to undergo training first and must complete three modules: threat observation; guard and patrol; and incident response.

The modules, which take between seven and eight days to complete, were the three most popular for the first half of this year, said SkillsFuture Singapore.

Many of the course participants contacted by The Straits Times had full-time jobs, but they said the training to be a security guard was a back-up plan in case of a job loss.

It could also be a way to supplement their income amid a surge in demand for security officers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The security sector is one of several sectors that are facing manpower shortages in the current climate.

The others include the logistics and cleaning sectors.

A survey conducted by the Union of Security Employees and the Singapore University of Social Sciences in January and February found the median monthly take-home pay for a security officer was $1,975.

MEET DEMAND

Having more people training to be security officers will help in meeting the rise in demand, said Security Association Singapore (SAS) president Raj Joshua Thomas.

He is, however, unconvinced if many of those trained would remain in the industry.

"In the longer term, we expect that these new entrants will move on to other jobs as the economy recovers. In this regard, in terms of career building and professionalism, this is not a good trend," he said.

Mr Sameer, for example, is not looking for a full-time job in the security industry.

"If it's a more senior position, maybe I'll consider it, but it depends on the salary too," he said, noting that the typical monthly wage for a security officer is far lower than that of a ship's junior officer.

Under the Progressive Wage Model, security officers of the lowest rank must be paid a basic salary of at least $1,250 a month. This increases to at least $1,820 a month for a senior security supervisor.

To encourage more people to enter the security sector, some industry players have called for allowing job seekers to defer training for positions at non-sensitive sites.

Mr William Adam Morton Jr, director of Keith Morton Security, in a letter to The Straits Times Forum page last month, said this would lead to officers being immediately employed on a temporary basis.

They should be given a grace period of six months after recruitment to attend the necessary training, he wrote.

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Employment