More career soldiers will need to be hired to train full-time national servicemen (NSFs).
This will free up the NSFs that are now conducting the training, so that they can take up combat roles in ground units.
As part of proposals to beef up the NS training system, Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing said the army will need 15 per cent more regulars to replace NSFs who now serve as instructors in training schools such as the Basic Military Training Centre.
Today, the ratio of the army's regular corps to NSFs is "extremely low", said Mr Chan, although he did not give figures. Growing a cadre of experienced career soldiers to teach fledgling soldiers will improve the training system "at a much faster rate".
This is because the seasoned hands can incorporate lessons into training quickly, rather than have new NSF trainers "recycle and relearn the lessons all over again", said Mr Chan.
But even as the army relooks its training and manpower needs, Mr Chan said the prospect of getting more people to join the army is a "big challenge" in a tight labour market. The manpower shortage is worsened by the shrinking number of young men enlisting in the coming years.
Adding new hires, Mr Chan said, could include bringing back more retired SAF personnel, and boosting the number of women and civilian contractors.
Today, these three groups serve in roles such as intelligence analysts and shooting range trainers, even as the SAF works to double its female population and farms out more training functions to civilians.