NSmen can soon tap skills training amid weak job market

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Safra president Zaqy Mohamad touring the EnergyOne Gym at Safra Tampines on Nov 15, 2020.
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Safra president Zaqy Mohamad touring the EnergyOne Gym at Safra Tampines on Nov 15, 2020.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - National servicemen will soon be able to tap dedicated skills training programmes to help them navigate a weak job market and economic uncertainty.

This will be done through collaborations between Safra, public agencies and education providers, Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad said on Sunday (Nov 15). Discussions are under way with Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture to offer relevant upskilling and training programmes through the national service association's platforms.

"Given the current situation with employment and the slow economy, we think one area which many of our NSmen will benefit from is learning," said Mr Zaqy, who is president of Safra.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Liberty Safra Swim for Hope finale at Safra Tampines as he announced Safra's plans to better cater to NSmen and their families over the next five years.

It follows a year-long strategic review that involved more than 1,400 national servicemen and volunteers.

Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Terence Quek, chairman of the review's working group and implementation committee, said participants had highlighted learning opportunities as a way that Safra can support NSmen, particularly those just embarking on their careers.

Details on the type and format of these courses as well as Safra's wider plans are still being worked out, he added.

In line with the review, a wider range of fitness and wellness offerings, such as mixed martial arts, dance and aerobics classes will be made available at Safra's six clubhouses, while gyms may also be set up beyond its compounds to provide greater access to fitness options.

Better addressing the healthcare needs of national servicemen and strengthening Total Defence are among other plans.

While some fitness plans have been delayed by the pandemic, others such as the launch of a mixed martial arts gym at Safra Tampines have gone ahead and proven popular, Mr Zaqy noted.

Safra's recent partnership with Amore Fitness has also helped to expand the association's reach, such as among female members.

Safra said in a statement that it is exploring healthcare-related partnerships that will offer members preferential rates for physiotherapy and medical screening, for example.

Dialogues on national issues and more charity events are also on the cards to help support Total Defence, Safra said.

A record 4,300 participants, including national servicemen and their families, took part in this year's virtual Swim for Hope event, which raised $166,600 for the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), Singapore Swimming Association's One Team Singapore Fund and the SAF Care Fund.

Mr Zaqy said that Safra's facilities and activities play an important role in community outreach during these uncertain times.

"Today, the economy is a big concern, our social fabric is a concern to some extent when people are uncertain or feeling insecure, and therefore, I think this is where Safra plays its part... to bring communities and families together, to strengthen our social fabric and bonds as a country," he said.