Young men starting national service in November next year will be able to choose from 33 vocations across the Singapore Armed Forces, police and civil defence. Only the commando and naval diving units, whose requirements are more stringent, can't be picked.
More details on this were released yesterday after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced in July that the interests of new enlistees will be considered in assigning NS vocations, alongside factors such as physical fitness, suitability to perform tasks and operational needs.
The 33 available vocations, from armour and fire and rescue to dog handling, will be grouped into seven categories.
Pre-enlistees, who cannot choose whether they go into the SAF, police or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), have to pick at least two choices from each category, or 14 choices in all. They may also indicate that they have no specific interest.
Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) enlisting in November next year will be the first to indicate their vocation preferences.
Singapore Armed Forces
Singapore Civil Defence Force
•Fire and rescue
Singapore Police Force
•Command, control and communications (C3) operations
•Police coast guard
•Police tactical troop
•Public transport security
They will do so when reporting to the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) in November for pre-enlistment procedures. They get to state their choices when they take the computerised aptitude test during the pre-enlistment medical screening.
They will receive their vocation posting after their basic training.
The CMPB takes in more than 20,000 enlistees a year over intakes in November, February, May and August.
Mr Jordan Low, 17, will go for his NS medical screening on Nov 11.
The first-year student at Anderson Junior College likes the idea of being able to state his vocational interests, as it will make him and his peers "more positive" about NS.
To help pre-enlistees decide, 19 videos by current national servicemen and a handbook will be launched on the CMPB website on Sunday. They will highlight the roles and responsibilities of each vocation and the training involved.
Said Colonel Yew Chee Leung, assistant chief of general staff (personnel) of the army: "The whole intent of this initiative is to encourage greater ownership by our servicemen in the roles they will play during NS."
However, he emphasised that the operational needs of the vocations still take priority as the key consideration in the deployment of NSFs.
Mr Rupert Gwee, director of NS Affairs at the Ministry of Home Affairs, said: "This initiative... will further encourage our Home Team national servicemen to take greater ownership of their contributions in ensuring Singapore's safety and security."
Should enlistees not get their preferred vocation and file appeals, these will be looked at case by case. However, there is a low chance they will be redeployed from the originally assigned vocations.