"PARTNERS IN INDUSTRY TRANSFORMATION"
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, President of Security Association Singapore (SAS),
Mr Robert Wiener, President, Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA),
Mr Hareenderpal Singh, President, Union of Security Employees,
And of course brother Steve Tan,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am delighted to join you this evening for your annual Gala and thank you very much for extending such a warm welcome to me. I feel very privileged. Thank you.
2. First, it is an opportunity for me to meet with all the partners in the private sector who are essential partners to the Home Team so that we can maintain safety and security in Singapore.
3. Now, earlier this year, as some of you know that the report of the Committee for Future Economy called on Trade Associations and Chambers to play a greater role to enable innovation and growth. And in light of this call, I was very heartened to hear Joshua during his State of the Association Address talk about the new initiatives that the Association has embarked on to bring the members along and indeed help support the security industry. They are highly commendable and I would like to wish you well in the implementation and encourage you to press on in this journey.
4. Tonight, I will just speak briefly about the broader efforts to transform the private security industry. This is an exercise that requires the trade associations, companies, unions and Government to work together. None of us on our own can bring about this transformation. And my Ministry, primarily through the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department, has been consulting stakeholders such as yourselves, to develop the Industry Transformation Map, or ITM for short. And the ITM, sometimes we meet overseas visitors and they are very curious about what we are attempting to do. For the benefit of those who are less familiar with the ITM, basically, we recognise that every sector is a little different and productivity in one sector is different from productivity in another sector. Innovation is not identical in different sectors so you have got to develop something that is relevant to each sector. And so, economy wide, we have started to map the industry transformation for 23 sectors which together account for about eighty per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. So that, in a nutshell is what the ITM attempts to do. So of course, for the security industry, we also hope that the industry transformation will help to enhance the vibrancy and progressiveness of the industry.
5. It goes without saying, and I think Joshua has reminded us earlier, that private security faces a challenging operating environment. There is of course the shortage of manpower; many security officers are pulling in many hours of overtime work. And at the same time, service buyers have become more demanding, sometimes rightly so, sometimes perhaps a little mistakenly. And Singapore is also facing the highest level of terrorism threat in recent years. We have not seen it reach such a high level of threat ever since we were able to dismantle the Jemaah Islamiyah threat.
6. But these challenges are also opportunities for the industry, if it can transform to be better able to take advantage of the opportunities. And so, we need to find ways to meet the growing demand with less but more highly skilled manpower. This will also, we hope, improve the security outcomes for Singapore, and provide more good jobs for Singaporeans. So let me just share some of the transformations that we are particularly encouraged by.
Examples of Transformation
7. Well, a number of security agencies and service buyers are already investing in technology and re-designing processes to provide smarter security solutions.
8. Some buildings, such as One Marina Boulevard, have installed visitor management systems that enable visitors to self-register, as a result, can potentially reduce the number of security officers that need to be deployed to manually register visitors. Hotels are doing it too.
9. Another example is the use of personal mobility devices by security officers. This is very useful at large-sized facilities. Soverus, one of the award recipients which you highlighted, is one security agency that has implemented this. Soverus has found that the increase in mobility helps its officers to perform patrol duties and respond to incidents faster, more efficiently and effectively.
10. Other improvements involve more fundamental changes. For example, instead of stationing guards at a building, security agencies can install cameras and sensors to monitor the building remotely from a command centre. Car park gantries and gates can also be remotely operated from the command centre. This does not mean that there is no manning at all. If there is an incident, a mobile security team just around the corner somewhere will be ready to be dispatched.
11. This transformed operating model is already in use at eight of CapitaLand's shopping malls. CapitaLand and Certis Cisco worked together to redesign processes and integrate them with technology. The effort has paid off handsomely. It has resulted in manpower savings of more than 20%, and allowed security officers to perform higher value-added jobs as command centre operators. In fact, Robert was whispering to me when Joshua was reminding you about the cost increases. He said if you use technology, it does not always translate into costs. So the wages may go up, but if you can save on the number of people that need to be deployed, the number of headcounts – the nature of the job, it becomes more meaningful, and you will be in a better position to pay those higher wages.
12. Now, CapitaLand is looking to extend the command centre model to its other malls. There are other security agencies and service buyers that have implemented similar operating models. So I think on the commercial side, commercial buildings, building owners and those that operate in the buildings immediately see the value. But I think you also need to persuade the Management Corporation Strata Titles, the residential properties to begin to adopt this model. That can be a plus for everyone.
13. And to create better quality jobs and to support industry transformation, Workforce Singapore (WSG) recently introduced the Security Productivity Initiative under the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme. Security agencies and service buyers can attend a workshop with professional consultants to scope a suitable project for job redesign and technology adoption. To implement the project, I hope you are paying attention to this, if you implement any project that falls within the Lean Enterprise Development scheme, you can obtain a grant of up to 80% of the project cost. It will cost you just 20% and of course, there is a funding cap. It is quite generous. For every entity, it is $300,000. So I think that significant funding supports that. If you are attempting to become more lean, you may opt for it. And since its introduction in September this year, we already have 23 companies that have signed up. And so, if you have not signed up, I strongly encourage you to do so. I can share with you that now that the Infrastructure Protection Bill has passed, the demand for security services will certainly rise further, and it will certainly present business opportunities for security agencies particularly those which can transform yourselves to overcome resource constraints.
14. Let me just say something very briefly about recent developments. Now, MHA has spent about a year working closely with tripartite partners to develop the Security ITM. We are putting the final touches together and will release it early next year.
15. But I am very pleased that the transformation in fact has already begun. You are not waiting for the map to be drawn up.
16. In addition to the examples I cited earlier, we implemented the Progressive Wage Model last year, and the schedule for wage increases in the coming years was recently announced. Joshua took us through that.
17. The industry is also working towards the removal of overtime exemption but you have several years to get there. It will only be active from 1 January 2021. And the unions worked hard on this and I believe it is a very significant step to improve working conditions for security officers. And I think what this means is that it will help the profession to attract more talents. The profession needs to grow, the industry needs to grow. We will always need a share of talents.
18. The Police is reviewing the assessment criteria for the grading of security agencies and the partnership with the SAS has been most useful. The key objective of the review of course is to place greater emphasis on security outcomes and of course, the use of technology will also feature quite prominently. This, and we hope, will give service buyers a sharper sense of the different quality of services provided by security agencies. And provide a bigger push to those who are providing better quality services. The Police has started to consult all of you, and hopes to introduce the new framework next year.
19. Last but not least, industry associations and the Union for Security Employees having formed the Security Industry Council (SIC), I think, have the important task ahead of you. It is quite clear that it would be important to involve service buyers in the industry transformation because ultimately, the ones who put the money down on the table, they are the buyers. And we have got to get the buyers on board, help them to appreciate what is needed in order for them to enjoy high quality security services. So I am very glad that the SIC is going to take the lead to organise the buyer outreach efforts.
20. So, in conclusion, transforming the security industry for the future requires strong partnerships between the Government, industry and the union. And I want to thank once again SAS, and of course ACSA for being great partners. And we look forward to your continued help as we work to implement the strategies in the ITM. I echo what Joshua had said earlier, which is I hope you all enjoy your evening. Thank you very much.