Chief Executive, Home Team Academy
Home Team colleagues and partners
Ladies and gentlemen
- Good afternoon.
- The Home Team Academy is very important to the entire Home Team. The different Home Team Departments do work with one another on a range of issues. But if you think about it, the Home Team Academy’s work intersects with every single one of the other departments. All of us, within the Home Team, have a vested interest and must have a sense of what the Academy is doing in its Workplan, and so here we are.
Importance of Training and Learning in the Home Team
- The Home Team operates 24/7, 365 days a year, we are always on call and as a result, as a team, we are always on our toes. Yet we also have to find time to evolve, adapt and transform, to respond to changes in our environment. The terrorist threat remains high, and we are often reminded of it through very sad and devastating incidents. Criminals continue to morph in their nature and tactics. Crime has also evolved, and is more sophisticated and complex. For example, more Singaporeans are falling victim to cyber-crimes. At the same time, public expectations of the Home Team are not letting up. So all of these challenges beg the question - how do we deal with all these demands in a sustainable way?
- Merely increasing manpower or “womanpower” is neither sustainable or effective. Instead, as with other sectors, we need to change the way we operate in the Home Team. We need to use technology to a greater extent, and we also need to streamline and even overhaul our processes and concepts of operation.
- It is not going to be easy. But we must embark on this journey while things are still doing well. To transform before things start falling apart. It is a must if we are to keep Singapore safe and secure.
- Let me share an example of how jobs in the Home Team will evolve with new concepts of operation. Currently, at the immigration service counters, ICA officers manually process travel documents. But with more reliable biometric systems and the availability of advance passenger information, ICA will roll out more self-service counters. In fact, ICA hopes to phase out manual counters completely. They are even experimenting with contactless, hassle-free and fast “breeze-through” immigration clearance. Singapore citizens, in a matter of time, would not need to produce their passports for clearance. Instead, the system will use iris and facial images for on-the-move identity verification. The role of the ICA officer will then change – from checking and stamping passports, to performing analytics of traveller information to sieve out individuals of concern, and eyeballing and picking out suspicious travellers on the ground. So our officers in ICA will need different skills.
- This is why the Home Team places great emphasis on training and upskilling. In ICA and all the Home Team departments, we have to provide our officers with the wherewithal to continue to deliver mission success.
- In this regard, I am pleased to see that HTA, as the Corporate University of the Home Team, has been actively supporting the Home Team Transformation, working in close partnership with the Training and Competency Division in Ministry HQ. HTA has stepped up to do more in leadership development, skills transformation, and continuous education and training – all of which will contribute to creating a stronger Home Team.
Continuous Education and Training
- I cannot emphasise enough the importance of HTA’s role in continuous education and training. Fundamentally, it is about investing in our most important asset – our officers.Let me share a few important initiatives.
- Like many Singaporeans, our officers aspire to upgrade academically. The Home Team has thus been collaborating with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to develop a Certificate in Home Team Studies. Our officers earn credits for selected modules when they attend Home Team courses. With these credits, they can work towards an SUSS undergraduate degree, while pursuing their career in the Home Team.
- Another area in which HTA is working closely with MHQ and the Home Team Departments, is equipping our officers with the skills critical for the Home Team Transformation. All Home Team officers have completed an introductory e-module in data analytics. They can expect more of such e-modules to be rolled out to enhance their knowledge and competencies in other contemporary areas, such as cyber security and behavioural insights. Areas which are still somewhat new, but in a matter of just a few years, will be very commonplace. If one has no working knowledge of these important concepts, we would be severely handicapped in carrying out our work.
- Wearing my hat as Manpower Minister, I am of course also delighted to see that our Home Team officers now benefit from systematic developmental opportunities throughout their careers with MHA – from recruitment all the way to retirement! This makes the Home Team a progressive employer, with a strong employee value proposition.
- The Home Team also needs strong and effective leadership. We will continue to invest significantly in the leadership development of our officers.
- The Home Team’s pinnacle leadership programme - the Phoenix Programme – has been significantly enhanced. You saw footages of some of the elements of the Phoenix Programme. It is a five-week programme and all of us can appreciate how challenging it must be for the Home Team departments to release these officers for the full five weeks. While this five-week programme is still anchored on a leadership development component run by INSEAD, it now incorporates more engagement opportunities with senior political and civil service leadership. The idea being that we need to provide an overall frame within which the content will begin to make more sense, and our officers can then internalise the broader context within which they must carry out their missions. The recent cohort also visited China, to see for themselves the developments there.
- I am delighted to see that HTA is also making your mark internationally, with new flagship programmes to which we invite senior leaders of foreign counterparts. In a new International Programme on Crisis Leadership and the Phoenix International Programme, both of which were rolled out in 2018, Home Team and foreign participants were provided insights into local, regional and international developments in safety and security issues. Given the level of connectedness of Singapore with the rest of the world, I think this element has got exceptional value.
- These leadership and international programmes bring HTA closer to being a leading Corporate University in the safety and security domain, recognised on the global stage.
- All educational institutions know this. That behind every successful course or programme is a trainer and sometimes a whole team of career developers. Without passionate, competent as well as effective trainers, we would not be able to deliver the high standard and quality of training that our officers deserve. Trainers have direct interface with trainees, and other than imparting knowledge and capabilities, they also shape attitudes and values. Plus of course, everyone must know this - if a trainer is a good one, the days pass by quite quickly. If the trainers are not quite there, the days do feel like weeks and months, and no one wants to take part in a programme like that. So the trainers are at the heart of it and they are critically important.
- That is why HTA has also invested significant resources in the development of HT trainers. They have been equipping trainers with the latest instructional skills and competencies through the UP-SCALE programme, or Upgrading Professionally – Specialist Certificate in Adult Learning and Education. So we all need to up-scale. The Facilitators-in-Training (or FiT) course has been customised for Home Team Adjunct Trainers. They are also equipped to facilitate blended and experiential learning.
- To better assess training effectiveness, HTA and TCD are developing a Training Evaluation Framework. Because trainers always need feedback. What worked well, what did not work so well and what can be better. This will allow the Home Team to have a standard format and method to evaluate learning outcomes at the end of each training intervention.
Use of Technology to Enable Learning
- During the MHA Committee of Supply debate earlier this year, I spoke about the capabilities that support the Home Team’s operations. The future cannot be fully predicted but we know that for certainty, science and technology will play a much bigger part in how we operate.
- This applies equally to how we train. And so, for example, the SCDF has partnered the MHA’s Science & Technology Group to infuse science and technology into the training. The Emergency Responders’ Fitness Conditioning & Enhancement Lab (EXCEL) was set up specifically to enhance the performance of emergency responders, the quality of training, as well as safety during training. By leveraging simulation technology, we can significantly improve learning outcomes, and internalise the teachings better. We will get to see some of these technologies later at the exhibition.
- Many of you are familiar with the Home Team Learning Management System. Since its launch in 2016, almost 70,000 Home Team officers have been given access, and I think these include our regulars, NSFs as well the NSmen. This Learning Management System is only three years old, but already there are plans for Version 2.0 which will incorporate new features such as mobility and analytics capabilities. The aim is to have a game changer, allowing HTDs to bring training to the frontline, and help our officers to learn anytime, anywhere.
Evolution of Training in the Home Team
- It is instructive, I think in this context and somewhat amusing, as we discuss the exciting training initiatives, to reflect on how far we have come.
- I visited the Police Coast Guard just Tuesday. Staff Sergeant Yunos bin Salleh joined the Marine Police, now the Police Coast Guard, way back in 1969 which is 50 years ago. He recounts that as the offices at Kallang Base, which is where the Marine Police used to be located, had limited space. Marine Police did not have classrooms for newcomers. So the poor officers underwent the pre-sea course under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, and all they had was one blackboard and a few long benches! Other Police cadets, until as recently as 2005, were training at the Old Police Academy at Mount Pleasant Road. Senior Station Inspector Adeline Fong recalled the place being quite ‘retro’. Actually, my mother also trained at the Old Police Academy, which was of course even earlier than that. But I think you know what I am talking about - the old colonial buildings, crackling loudspeakers, and her parents sat on the now historic spectator stands during her passing-out parade.
- And it is only in 2006 that most of the Home Team training schools came together at the Home Team Academy, to share this purpose-built and modern training facility.Now, the classrooms are progressively being refurbished into smart classrooms for blended learning, using more VR and AR training systems which are also being developed, such as the Home Team Simulation System and VR for Crime Scene Investigator Training. I hope HTA and the Training Schools continue to leverage technology, innovate, modernise and keep abreast of new and more effective training methods.
- So let me conclude. The Home Team must continue to prioritise training and learning, and the development of our officers. I am confident that HTA will continue to drive this.
- I also want to thank the Heads of our Home Team Departments and their Chief Learning Officers, who have been giving training and learning high attention. Without this emphasis, our Home Team Transformation may sputter, may not be sustained, and may not be as impactful and successful as it should be.
- Through the training at HTA, we also cultivate a stronger Home Team espirit de corps. This comes about in the joint courses run by HTA, right from the start of an officer’s career when he or she participates in the Home Team Foundation Course, to the pinnacle Phoenix Programme for senior leaders. By working together and supporting each other, and leveraging the skills and competencies of fellow Home Team Departments. The whole is greater than the sum of its past, so let us keep gelling, keep remembering that at heart of the Home Team, our officers and their training must always be a priority, so that we can keep doing a better job of keeping Singapore and Singaporeans safe and secure.
- Thank you very much, have a fruitful seminar.