Wanted: More police officers. Interested? Check out the $30,000 payout that new sergeants can get if they join the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
The changes were announced yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). In its statement, it said that those who join the SPF after Aug 1 will get up to $30,000 of bonuses for signing on (See chart on facing page).
The bonuses will be distributed in two parts: When the recruit first signs on to the force and upon his confirmation of employment.
In addition to the new sign-on bonuses, MHA also announced that more than 18,000 officers from the Home Team will see a pay increase of between five to 12 per cent.
The changes were made to "ensure that Home Team salaries remain competitive, keep pace with the market and are commensurate with the skills and demands required of Home Team officers", the MHA statement said.
With these changes, the police target to employ another 300 officers by the end of the year.
Last month, Home Affairs minister Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament that the police would boost their numbers, leading others to question how they would do that in a tight labour market.
Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee had also asked for 1,000 more police officers to augment the force.
The latest incentive is likely to intensify the competition for talent in the security sector.
Certis Cisco, for instance, has already been offering joining bonuses of up to $18,000 for its auxiliary police officers, according to recruitment advertisements.
But while private security firms can employ foreigners such as Malaysians, the SPF cannot.
Still, Certis Cisco told The New Paper that the SPF's incentives would impact its recruitment, as the Home Team is looking for similarly qualified people to join its ranks.
"We will need time to assess the impact,"said its senior vice-president of group marketing and corporate communications Richard Lam.
A spokesman for Aetos, another auxiliary police force, however, said that the changes would not affect its recruitment efforts.
This is because the entry requirements for SPF and Aetos auxiliary police officers are different in terms of recruitment profile.
"Earlier this year, in June, Aetos had already revised its remuneration package, and is confident that its salaries remain competitive to recruit new auxiliary police officers," the spokesman added.
Certis Cisco, Aetos and the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) security services are the three main providers of auxiliary police officers in the industry.
Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair told TNP that the SPF was not meant to be competing with private security firms as both play different roles.
Said Mr Nair: "The manpower crunch in the police force has been known for some time, but the idea is not to take people away from places like Cisco. The ultimate goal is to bring more people into the industry."
Mr Nair, who is also a member of the Home Affairs and Law Government Parliamentary Committee, added that private agencies would "probably have to adjust accordingly".
"That would probably mean higher costs for people who use their services. But if they adjust their employment terms, on a whole, it is actually attracting more people into the industry, which is a good thing."
A spokesman for MHA said that the mission of private security agencies differ from that of the Home Team, which is to ensure the safety and security of Singapore and Singaporeans.
"MHA regularly reviews the terms and conditions of service to ensure that the Home Team continues to be able to attract and retain good and capable people, and offer them purposeful, rewarding and fulfilling careers," the spokesman said.
Mr T. Mogan, the president of the Security Association (Singapore), said the pay rises are necessary and that security officers and the like should be better compensated as their services are performance based.
"People working in this industry have to be attentive and vigilant. After all, they are protecting the lives of Singaporeans," he said. "It is high time that they (the salaries) should be increased."
The unarmed security sector, which accounts for the largest manpower component in the security sector, has licensed over 60,000 security officers in approximately 275 security agencies.
But the long hours and low wages have made jobs in the industry unattractive to many.
A report by The Straits Times last year noted that although there were 65,679 unarmed private security guards licensed by the police, only 36,000 are actively working as guards.
And it does not help that demand for security services continues to be on the rise. About 50,000 guards are needed - which means there are 14,000 spots to fill just to meet demand, said Robert Wiener, president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies.
Moreover, with the rise of completed residential, commercial, industrial and private buildings, the need for security manpower is on the rise
This article was first published on August 07, 2014.
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