More tertiary students signing on as part-time auxiliary officers

Certis Cisco part-time auxiliary officers (from left) Damien Chew, 28; Kelvin Khaw, 26; and Muhd Irfan, 24. Part-timers like them make up about 60 per cent of the security firm's 300 part-time APOs.
Certis Cisco part-time auxiliary officers (from left) Damien Chew, 28; Kelvin Khaw, 26; and Muhd Irfan, 24. Part-timers like them make up about 60 per cent of the security firm's 300 part-time APOs.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Mr Kelvin Khaw is 26 and a psychology graduate from the Singapore Institute of Management.

He is also a part-time auxiliary police officer (APO).

It may not have been a career he had planned for but Mr Khaw, who started working with Certis Cisco in 2013 as a student, said he was attracted to the flexible hours and high salary, compared with other part-time jobs.

"I am earning much more than my peers," said Mr Khaw, who in April became the first part-timer to win the Commander's Award, which recognises good work by APOs.

Although he graduated in June, he has continued working as a part-time APO and is able to earn $3,000 a month. Part-time officers are paid $12 an hour, which increases to $18 an hour if the officer works more than eight hours a day. They enjoy health insurance or other benefits. Students are eligible for study grants of up to $2,500 if they manage to clock 700 hours of work within six months.

Mr Khaw is one of almost 200 tertiary students or graduates working with Certis Cisco as part-time APOs.

The firm is actively recruiting such students amid "increasing security demands" here, said its spokesman.

It has gone out, including into schools, to recruit students, and conducted marketing campaigns targeted at youth, who must be at least 18 years old. It has also partnered Republic Polytechnic in offering APOs fully sponsored courses.

The efforts have paid off. The security firm has seen a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of university and polytechnic students working as APOs since 2014. They make up about 60 per cent of its 300 part-time APOs.

In all, there are around 7,000 APOs in Singapore, whose work includes protecting sensitive installations. They also support police deployment at major events, for instance, the annual Laneway music festival in January.

Of the other two major employers of APOs here, SATS Security Services said it did not have any students working part-time as APOs, while Aetos declined comment.

Although APOs are trained in areas such as handling arms and counter-terrorism, there are still misconceptions about the job.

"When I told my parents I was going to work for Certis Cisco, they asked if I was going to stand in front of a bank," said 28-year-old Damien Chew, who is studying biomedical engineering at SIM University.

Mr Muhd Irfan, 24, who studies history at Nanyang Technological University, said despite the flexible working hours, it could be difficult balancing work and studies.

The part-timers said they would consider their options before deciding whether to continue as auxiliary officers after graduating.

Mr Khaw said he does not mind staying on in the role, especially given the demand for security services because of terror threats. "I like working in uniform," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'More tertiary students signing on as part-time auxiliary officers'. Print Edition | Subscribe