Home Team Academy Workplan Seminar 2022 - Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Published: 11 May 2022

Chief Executive, Home Team Academy
Head of Departments
Home Team colleagues and partners
Ladies and gentlemen

1.   Good afternoon.

2.   Thank you for having me here at the Home Team Academy (HTA) for the HTA Workplan 2022 Seminar for my very first time. And I was also told by PS that this is also the first time in two and half years that we have a gathering of our Home Team officers at this scale and in this hall. So, I think we have come a long way.

Importance of Training and Learning in the Home Team and the Whole-of-Government (WOG)

3.   And of course the COVID-19 pandemic has been a sobering reminder that the Home Team must always be prepared for and respond to the unexpected.  Our officers have had to adapt their operations at the frontlines like the immigration checkpoints, where our ICA officers had to oversee swab operations on the ground; take on new roles where our officers like the Police had to go in to the foreign worker dormitories at some point in time to help with the operations there; or in the case of our SCDF EMS officers, who had to be deployed at ground zero to respond to Covid-positive and suspected cases, thousands and thousands of them.  Our Home Team officers have done very well in the national effort to manage the pandemic. And I think it is a rightful junction to give yourself a big round of applause and to recognise the hard work by the Home Team officers.

4.   Such high levels of professional competency will indeed generate great confidence and trust in the Home Team, and our ability to keep Singapore safe and secure.  This high level of trust will in turn gives us the space to do what we need to do to fulfil our mission.  It is indeed a virtuous cycle. 

5.   And to maintain the high level of competency that is needed, we must ensure that our officers receive the best form of training we can provide, not just at the point when they join us, but also throughout their entire careers in the Home Team.  The required skill sets must continuously be reviewed and updated so that our officers are always well-trained, and remain current in their ability to deal with the evolving challenges of the day. 

6.   In this regard, HTA is an important enabler in equipping Home Team officers with the necessary competencies and skillsets.  Beyond the Home Team, HTA also has a wider role in the public service.  Issues facing the whole of government are more complex and public officers need to develop a wider range of skills.  HTA therefore has a role in providing training to officers in the wider public service, many of whom who are represented here today, especially in the niche areas of crisis management, crisis leadership and incident response.

HTA’s FY2021 Key Achievements

7.   As our corporate training institute, HTA takes the lead in transforming the training capabilities of the Home Team. A significant amount of progress has been made in the past year despite having to deal with the pandemic.

(a)   For example, HTA partnered SPF and HTX to bring the Home Team Simulation System (HTS2) to ground units through a Satellite Centre at the Tanglin Police Division. This has brought realistic and immersive training experiences right down to the frontline where the officers are.
(b)   HTA also developed a Collaborative Learning Space prototype to support technology-enabled learning and adopted Virtual Reality to assess HT trainers’ instructional competencies.
(c)   HTA has also collaborated with the Singapore University of Social Sciences and Civil Service College to develop new programmes, such as the “Curriculum Design and Development Programme” and the “Leaders in Enforcement Management Programme” for WOG leaders.

8.   I would also like to commend the training and learning (T&L) efforts of the other Home Team Departments. The many projects on display in the exhibition behind you, later on you will see, show a whole-of-Home Team commitment to investing in the training and continuous development of our officers. These achievements show that together, we can keep pushing the boundaries and attain a higher level of training.

Scaling Greater Heights - Driving Continuous Learning and Digitalisation as One Home Team

Driving Training Excellence

9.   Let me now talk about HTA’s plans for this coming year. As a one-stop Centre for Home Team T&L needs, HTA will be establishing four Centres of Excellence (CoE) in the following domains: Leadership in Public Safety and Security; Simulation Training for Critical Incident Management; Evaluation and Assessment; and Online Learning.

10.   I will elaborate on two of these CoEs.

Centre of Excellence in Leadership in Public Safety and Security

11.   The first is the CoE in Leadership in Public Safety and Security.  For the Home Team to successfully manage the challenges to Singapore’s safety and security, we need strong and effective leaders on the ground and in our organisation. This CoE will introduce structured learning touchpoints to reinforce leadership concepts and skills, encourage the application of the skills learned and sustain peer learning.  Additionally, it will be developing a new leadership programme in crisis governance this year to help WOG leaders deepen their competencies in crisis leadership and manage multi-sectoral responses during a crisis.

12.   For example, the Director of Strategic Communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sheryl Shum, attended HTA’s Introduction to Crisis Management Course in April 2021. She found the course extremely valuable in equipping her with the necessary tools and know-hows to understand crisis management structures, the fundamentals of crisis communications and leadership during a crisis. These skills and networking opportunities during the course came in especially handy and useful recently when she had to work with other Ministries to communicate Singapore’s principled position in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.  HTA should continue to lean forward to share our knowledge and experience with colleagues in the public service sector.

Centre for Excellence in Simulation Training for Critical Incident Management

13.   The second CoE that I would like mention is in Simulation Training for Critical Incident Management.   

14.   HTA has been investing in simulation training and continues to harness its potential to strengthen our officers’ capabilities.  These tools enable officers to participate in realistic training scenarios in a safe environment. By making the training available in satellite locations, more officers across the Home Team will have easier access and more opportunities to train on the system.  It will also facilitate joint exercises involving two or more HTDs.  Having rolled out the first HTS2 Satellite Centre at Tanglin Police Division, HTA will now explore rolling out other more Satellite Centres for Home Team-wide joint exercises.  This will also involve working with HTDs to review and to enhance training simulation capabilities and scenarios, so that they remain an effective training tool for all our officers.

15.   HTS2 has directly benefitted our ground officers. Take the example of ASP Jay Gan, Team Leader of Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre, who attended training at the HTS2 Satellite Centre in Tanglin Police Division with his team. Two days after the training, ASP Gan and his team were dispatched to respond to an actual barricaded incident at a HDB residential unit. The team applied the sensemaking, incident management and decision-making skills that they learnt from the training and was able to successfully arrest the suspect.

Training Smart: Using Technology to Enable Learning and Enhance Training & Learning Capabilities

16.   These success stories of adopting new technology are merely the beginning of the era of hyper-innovation. HTA has been leveraging technology to deliver seamless campus experiences and effective learning outcomes.

17.   For example, the Home Team Learning Management System (HTLMS) has been the key e-learning platform for Home Team officers since 2016. HTA is currently developing HTLMS 2.0 which will incorporate new features such as mobile-enabled learning, personalised learning, learning analytics and an AI-enabled marking system. HTLMS 2.0 will be ready in 2023, and will push training to the frontline by allowing our officers to learn anytime, anywhere.

18.   While the Home Team continues to invest in technology, officers also need to be equipped with the know-how to use and apply those technologies in our work. HTA will support the Home Team’s digital upskilling efforts by curating the course content for knowledge retaining purposes, and by analysing post-programme evaluations to assess training effectiveness. On its part, HTA is also committed to investing 160 training hours over the next three years to upskill HTA officers in Data Analytics, the Internet of Things, Cyber Security, Cloud Technology, Robotics Process Automation, and Communication, Collaboration & Problem Solving.

Promoting HT Integration and Inculcating HT Values and Principles

19.   Now beside functional skills, I think that it is equally important that Home Team officers uphold the right values while continuing and carrying out their missions. Officers must feel that they are part of an organisation that has a strong set of core values that serve as our moral compass.  In this connection, HTA and MHA’s Training and Competency Development Division have identified a set of key Home Team values and principles that underpin the Home Team’s work. These values and principles will be incorporated into the HTDs’ milestone and developmental programmes. An e-learning module will also be developed to familiarise trainers with the values and principles.

20.   Another very important platform to inculcate Home Team values in our officers is the Home Team Gallery.  The Gallery forges a sense of belonging by building a shared understanding of the Home Team’s rich heritage. HTA has just completed a refresh of the Gallery, which now provides a more interactive, emotive, and immersive experience. It adopts a layered content strategy that caters to visitors with different interests, using text, images, artefact displays and multimedia interactives. The refreshed Gallery not only showcases the Home Team’s achievements over the past 25 years but also our continuous efforts to be future-ready. I am happy to launch the refreshed Gallery today and to join you in the tour later on.


21.   So in conclusion, I would like to encourage all HTDs to push on with your T&L transformation plans as it will enable us to be a more effective future-ready organisation that will engender public trust in the Home Team.  The training fraternity must work closely to instil a strong culture of learning and self-learning among our officers.

22.   HTA has done well in driving T&L initiatives in the Home Team. I am confident that you will continue to excel.  I also want to thank the HTDs, Statutory Boards and your Chief Learning Officers for championing T&L as an organisational priority. Without your support, we would not have been able to progress so far in our T&L transformations.

23.   Thank you and have a fruitful seminar ahead.