Singapore Budget 2015: Greater opportunities for non-graduates to rise in civil service

SINGAPORE - From Aug 1, non-university graduates joining the civil service will be hired under the same scheme as university graduates.

This means that they will have greater opportunities to advance, and when they reach a certain grade, will be assessed for performance and potential in the same way as their graduate colleagues at the same level.

The move aims to bridge the gap in career prospects between graduates and non-graduates.

"Officers assessed to have the same performance and potential will have the same opportunities for advancement and career development, whether they are degree holders or not," said Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday during the debate on the Prime Minister's Office budget.

Mr Teo, the minister-in-charge of the civil service, was responding to Senior Minister of State Heng Chee How (Whampoa), who asked for an update on the Public Service Division's study announced last August on ways to merge their main graduate and non-graduate schemes, and give officers a chance to progress on the same career track.

This study is in line with the Government's push to do more to support the aspirations of non-graduates, and the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review or Aspire committee report, which called on bosses to go beyond qualifications in developing workers.

Mr Teo said the study has been completed, and the existing Management Executive Scheme, under which most graduates are now hired, will be extended from August 2015.

"Both degree holders and non-degree holders will be recruited on, and progress along, the extended Management Executive Scheme," he said.

"All officers in the same grade will be assessed for performance and potential in the same way."

Mr Teo added that the extension of the scheme will be accompanied by a re-design of jobs and responsibilities, so that officers' abilities and potential can be fully used.

He said that the civil service is committed to supporting its officers to acquire deeper skills relevant to their jobs, in line with the SkillsFuture initiative which helps Singaporeans master skills throughout their lives.

Mr Teo also agreed with Mr Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who had urged the civil service to look at other factors, not just academic performance, when it came to hiring and promotion.

Mr Teo replied that when recruiting officers, the civil service considers factors beyond academic qualifications, such as character, motivations, commitment to public service, initiative, and interpersonal skills.

Mr Teo said that academic or professional qualifications are necessary for certain jobs, for example in medicine, engineering, law or accountancy.

For a candidate with no prior working experience, academic qualification can be one useful proxy to assess ability and suitability.

But for a mid-career candidate, relevant work experience would be a better proxy, he said.

"A candidate, who is suitable, will be offered a position commensurate with assessed abilities and experience," he added.

charyong@sph.com.sg