About 3,300 security supervisors face a "serious risk" of being demoted if they do not attend a compulsory course within the next three months, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) warned yesterday.
NTUC assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari said in a blog post that ground feedback showed "many security supervisors are unwilling to attend skills upgrading courses... despite their lack of the necessary skills qualifications to perform roles with greater responsibilities".
The Sept 11 attacks in 2001 "marked a tipping point for the security industry", said Mr Zainal, noting that the attacks "led to a huge increase in demand for more professional security services".
In Singapore, "tremendous efforts have been made to inject greater professionalism into the industry".
One way has been through the implementation of a new wage ladder.
Come Sept 1, the minimum monthly basic wages of security supervisors will rise to $1,500 from the current market rate of about $1,200.
It is hard to find a replacement when a supervisor is on course. There are only so many in the market.
MR SELVAKUMAR, general manager of Aero Asia Security Systems.
Mr Zainal noted that to encourage sign-ups, the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department, which certifies security officers, had written to those who have yet to fulfil the necessary requirements to keep or upgrade their posts.
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency has also introduced "flexible training delivery such as weekend classes, bite-size modules and on-site training", he said.
Currently, supervisors make up about 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the 33,000-strong security sector.
To qualify as a supervisor under the new legislation, personnel must have at least two years of experience as a senior security officer.
They must also complete one compulsory module and at least two other recommended ones under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications framework. Each module requires between 22 and 34 hours, but experienced officers can opt to take only the assessment.
Ms Lorraine Lim, director of Force-One Security, said the change is "making companies rethink their needs, based on changing contracts". She added: "Some companies may deploy current supervisors to be senior officers instead."
Five security firms told The Straits Times they are on their way to meeting the new requirements.
Aero Asia Security Systems general manager Selvakumar, who goes by only one name, said the manpower shortage makes it difficult to spare a supervisor. "It is hard to find a replacement when a supervisor is on course. There are only so many in the market."
Security supervisor T.H. Chan, 53, expects to complete the modules by next month. He has been taking classes on and off for about a year. "It was hard for me to go for classes because I had not attended lessons for a very long time. It was hard for me to concentrate. But I am glad I am about to finish because I am looking forward to the higher pay."