Paper qualifications not enough for public service: Chan Chun Sing

PHOTO: Youtube/GovSG

Educational qualifications remain a "valid proxy" for the skills of potential public servants and they will not be disregarded, Mr Chan Chun Sing (right), Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, said yesterday.

But such qualifications are not sufficient, added Mr Chan, who is also the Minister for Trade and Industry, during the debate on the budget for the Prime Minister's Office.

Stressing the importance of diversity in the service, he said: " Going forward, when our Public Service selects future leadership teams, we will increasingly look for a combination of operations, communications, mobilisation and international exposure, beyond pure policy-making skills."

He added: "A more diverse public service is a more resilient public service for the uncertainties ahead."

Besides intellect, the Government wants officers with initiative and creative ideas, and who can work well with others, he said.

In areas like information and communications technology, the Public Service will select recruits based on their technical skills, he added.

Since 2015, the service has been moving towards single salary schemes for officers, whether they are ITE or university graduates, he said.

SINGLE SCHEME

Almost all the 50-something public sector agencies are on a single scheme, apart from officers who are required to have particular qualifications, such as doctors or engineers.

He was responding to nine MPs who offered ideas on how to improve the civil service.

Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang), Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Nominated MP Anthea Ong asked how the Public Service was helping its officers adopt new mindsets and skills to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world and higher expectations from citizens.

Mr Chan said that, among other things, they might get a better understanding of how policies are put in place by interacting with people more often.

He highlighted Public Service Cares, a new initiative to be implemented this year, to encourage all officers to volunteer and learn how to communicate better with Singaporeans.

More public officers will get the chance to work in the private sector for a period of time, as part of the goal to achieve "greater porosity and two-way flow of talents", he said.

He noted that the inaugural Service Delivery Talent Attachment Programme last year saw 10 officers sent on work attachments to DBS, Grab and Singtel.

The public service will also reorganise itself to be more citizen-centric instead of agency-centric.

For example, Singaporeans who approach any counter at the Public Service Centre in Our Tampines Hub can ask any staff member for help for some 70 services across six agencies, instead of having to wait for the "right" counter to become available, he said.

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.