Why It Matters

Security sector facing change

With more buildings and infrastructure being built, and the rising threat of terrorism, the security sector has been under pressure to meet the growth in demand for its services.

But even with 47,000 security officers, the traditionally manpower-reliant sector has been unable to keep up.

To address a shrinking local workforce, rising staff costs and a heightened terror threat, last November, the Government accepted recommendations by the Security Tripartite Cluster that will see the basic pay of security officers go up by around $300 by 2021. Security agencies must adopt the new recommendations from Jan 1 next year.

Last week, the Government also launched the security Industry Transformation Map, which will see it investing some $10 million in the next three years to support tech and innovation in the security sector, and improve skills and career progression.

The road map also presented a blueprint for outcome-based security contracts, shifting the emphasis from manpower to performance.

For instance, instead of specifying their headcount requirements in a security tender, buyers of security services may instead specify a proposed response time for a security crisis.

This will work as a push for security firms to adopt and offer technology as a solution in its tender proposals instead of primarily relying on more people.

Those in the industry, however, worry that this will increase costs, but unionists are adamant that mindsets must change in the industry.

In this, the Government has decided to take the lead. By 2020, most government agencies will be adopting outcome-based contracts.

JTC Corporation has also started to restructure security contracts by focusing on outcomes.

With training opportunities, better wages and the adoption of technology, the hope is that the security sector will be able to draw younger and more Singaporeans - and retain them - to meet a demand that is unlikely to abate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'Security sector facing change'. Print Edition | Subscribe