The Singapore Police Force has not been spared the country's labour crunch. So, in a bid to better recruit and retain talent, it is planning to revamp its service schemes.
Last Friday, the police called for a tender to merge its current Senior Police Officer and Police Officer schemes - better known among the men and women in blue as the senior officer and junior officer tracks respectively - into one.
Currently, degree holders are usually recruited into the senior officer scheme, while those with at least five GCE O-level passes or a Nitec from the Institute of Technical Education come under the junior officer scheme.
Junior officers may later be considered for promotion into the senior ranks.
In an interview with The Sunday Times earlier this year, Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee admitted that attracting young people with the right values and passion for policing has been a challenge. It is made tougher because the pool of Singaporeans and permanent residents eligible for the job is shrinking, he added.
The police, which had 14,000 officers as of last year, did not reveal how many it needs to hire every year.
But to fill the positions needed for its Community Policing System (Cops), which was rolled out last May, the force needs to sign up at least 450 new recruits. Cops aims to strengthen Neighbourhood Police Centres, making them the front line in the fight against crime. The police also said that they had a monthly average resignation rate of 0.3 per cent for uniformed officers in the last three years.
The national monthly resignation rate was 2.1 per cent in 2012, according to Manpower Ministry statistics.
Last year in February, the force introduced a $10,000 sign-on bonus for diploma holders and increased starting salaries to up to $2,370 and $4,372 for junior and senior officers respectively.
Now it is considering doing away with dividing the senior and junior officer tracks on the basis of educational qualification, since this may no longer be relevant with more people expected to have a degree in the future, said the police.
The new review is about "future-proofing" the police recruitment process, a spokesman told The Sunday Times.
When told that the police were considering combining its two career paths, former officers such as Mr Linus Neo lauded the move. He believes this could help non-degree holders become senior officers faster.
The 37-year-old diploma holder, who now works as a senior executive in the health-care industry for 50 per cent more pay, left the force after more than a decade.
He recalled how his secondary schoolmate, who joined the force with a degree, became his supervisor. He also knows of many officers who quit to study for a degree before rejoining the force.
"For junior officers to become senior officers, they would need to spend one year as an acting inspector, holding the same junior pay.
"After that, they go for a nine-month course and spend another year as a probationary inspector. In all, it would take about three years to be a full-fledged inspector, which is why many chose to study for a degree instead."