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Why It Matters

A more fruitful NS experience

A move to allow young men entering national service to indicate which vocations they want to serve in could bring about a more meaningful NS experience that they can look forward to.

In turn, these vocations would benefit from having servicemen who are passionate about what they do.

Enlistees starting NS from the end of next year will for the first time get to express their interests.This will better match an enlistee's capability with his role in NS, and spur him to take ownership of his responsibilities, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in his annual interview before SAF Day last Friday.

Their choices will be taken into account after they are posted to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force or the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

From the end of this year, pre-enlistees can choose from a range of vocations as part of their screening at the Central Manpower Base. Details of more than 30 vocations in the various forces will be put online later this year.

The matching of interest to vocation was one of 30 recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service in 2014.

The move to match interests with NS vocations is a good step forward, and may well lead to better morale and higher productivity among servicemen.

For some, it may enable them to use their time in NS to pick up skills relevant to their future jobs.

For others, allowing them to do what they have a passion for could even lead them to pursue a career in the SAF or the Home Team.

Even so, with operational needs still taking priority over the vocational preferences, not everyone may get what they express interest in.

While an enlistee may be drawn to certain vocations, his eventual posting will still largely be determined based on manpower needs.

This means enlistees could be posted to less popular vocations if that is where soldiers are required. As such, those heading for enlistment will also need to temper their expectations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'A more fruitful NS experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe