NS Enlistees to Indicate Vocation Choice – What This Could Mean for You and Your Children


As of November, National Service (NS) enlistees have a choice to express their interest of vocation they want to be deployed to. Enlistees will indicate their preferences during pre-enlistment procedures at the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) before they’re enlisted the following year.

You may be wondering why is there such a process going on, and that is because this is part of efforts to encourage full-time National Servicemen to take greater ownership of their responsibilities during their NS stint, hence, the benefit of being able to choose their vocations.

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Choosing Your Vocation

Pre-enlistees, who’re unable to decide if they want to go into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF) or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), can pick at least two choices from each category, or 14 choices in all, and these vocations come from the SAF, SPF and the SCDF. These vocations can range from Armour, Police Tactical Troop, Fire & Rescue etc. They can also indicate that they’ve no specific interest. 

On the day of their medical screening, pre-enlistees will be given a list of 33 vocations, which are grouped into 7 categories by operational requirements. Afterwards, they’ll state their choices when they take the computerised aptitude test during the pre-enlistment medical screening and will receive their vocation posting after their basic training.

Additionally, their preferences are considered in parallel with existing factors such as one’s cognitive aptitude, individual skills and medical condition.

However, do note that the selection process for vocations such as the commandos and naval divers will remain independent of this exercise, as they’ve their own specialised and stringent criteria to fulfill.

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.”

But, what happens if enlistees do not get their preferred vocation? Well, you may then file an appeal and these will be looked at a case by case basis. However, chances of redeployment are fairly low. 

Bringing the Family Closer

To help pre-enlistees make an informed decision, videos and information on the various vocations are available on the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) website. CMPB Commander Colonel Koh Chia Chee hopes that parents of pre-enlistees will watch the videos together with their children, in order to better help them with the decision-making process.

“Parents may want to know that vocations have undergone lots of changes, and the vocations that they knew from their time may be quite different from what they have now,” said Col Koh.

Therefore, this is a good opportunity for fathers to share with their enlisting sons on their experiences they had when they were serving in their vocations. They are in a good position to advise their sons on their vocations choices which will help enlistees prepare and make a better choice. 

Hence, by helping their sons go through the vocation selection procedures, it helps to further strengthen the bond between father and son.

In addition, family members can accompany their sons when they go through all the necessary procedures before enlisting, so that their presence assures enlistees won’t have to go through this alone and know that their families will be with them throughout their entire journey.

Lastly, fathers can become more involved in their sons’ enlistment by finding out more about how modern the various services have become, and what the various vocations have transformed into from the past. 

What This Mean For You and Your Children

While being able to choose a preferred vocation may sound music to many enlistees’ ears, the role they play in safeguarding Singapore is still critical.

Hence, even if you may not get the vocation you want, your position is extremely vital and as such, I encourage you to make the most out of it. You may never know that your posting could actually be a blessing in disguise and could actually turn out to be something that you’re good at! 

As enlistees embark on this “rite of passage”, they should be aware that this is a path that they won’t walk alone, for their families will be with them every step of the way.

From helping them undergo all the various procedures, to their Passing-Out-Parade, families who’re actively involved in the enlistees’ progress are able to strengthen and cultivate positive and meaningful relationships between father and son. 

As mentioned, fathers who share their NS experiences with their children have much to benefit from, as the experience allows them to be more comfortable when they enlist.

So all in all, being a NS man is more than just serving the nation with pride and honour, it’s also a rewarding journey that involves families as well, and at the end of the day, enlistees can grow from being “ah boys” to “men”.

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