Launch of the Security Industry Transformation Map and Skills Framework for Security – Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs & Second Minister for Manpower

Published: 13 February 2018

A.     Introduction


1.     Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


2.     Good morning. Thank you for being here at the launch of the Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM). 


3.     The ITMs chart the future for Singapore's economy by focusing on transforming 23 key industries. These industries comprise about 80% of our GDP. Security is one of them. The security industry is an important one. Besides contributing to the economy and creating jobs, it helps to keep Singapore safe and secure. About 47,000 security officers, 600 service providers and 240 security agencies support the Home Team to protect the many buildings where we live and work. Security officers, as you saw from the video, report suspicious activities, attend to incidents and maintain order at public places and events.


4.     The Security ITM is a collective effort that has taken slightly more than a year to develop. Industry associations and companies, the Labour Movement, service buyers and various government agencies, not just MHA, were deeply involved in the process. Many meetings and focus group discussions were held to gather inputs, to ensure that we look at the issues comprehensively, and that the ITM is relevant and meaningful to the stakeholders. Just a few weeks ago, I had a dialogue session with industry stakeholders and we had a good discussion about how we can work together to transform the industry. I thank everyone who has contributed ideas and suggestions to help us get to this point.


5.     Having gathered many inputs, what can we say about the current state of the industry, our vision for the future, and how we can get there together?


B.     Current Challenges


6.     Let me start by sharing a number of the inter-related challenges which you told us about. 


7.     The first set of challenges have to do with buyers' behaviours. Many buyers of security services still do not have the practice of conducting risk assessments before they call for tender. Typically, they use the same tender specifications that have been in place for years – kind of like the idea that if it isn't broken, why fix it. Most often, they ask for the same number of guards as in the previous contract, not knowing whether it is optimal. They also tend to select vendors on cost only, rather than assess value, because if the contract spells out, you need X number of people, then, there is really nothing very much else to evaluate. How much does that number of people cost to us? So this is the consequence of how the contracts are specified. Not because the buyers are not keen to do anything else, they just took over what was given to them. There is low awareness of new technologies and innovative solutions that can provide them with the same or even better security outcomes. But even if they were prepared to invest in technology, there may not be follow-through to redesign jobs, or as quite a few of the security providers have told us, they may not equip staff for effective implementation to use the equipment properly or to optimise its value.


8.     As a result, from the service providers' perspective, there's little incentive to differentiate their services, because the buyers are not asking for it. Several other industry practices also have unhelpful consequences. For example, contract durations tend to be short. That is to keep security service providers on its toes. This means that service providers have not much time to recoup investments, even if they are willing to bear the upfront costs. On a day-to-day basis, liquidated damages for a range of service lapses can be quite punitive. The relationship with buyers is quite transactional, with little room for building trust, on something as important as securing the premises. 


9.     The consequence of all this is that, security guarding has remained largely manpower-intensive. Promising new technologies are not readily adopted. Innovative solutions have not gone very far. In a recent report published by MOM, job vacancies for security guards topped the list of all vacancies for Rank and File workers. A key reason is of course, because job content and work conditions remain unattractive. In fact that is the most often cited reason when you ask job-seekers why they do not take up the openings that are available in security guarding.


10.     Yet, despite these many challenges, many of you also shared with us your excitement about the opportunities in the sector. Demand for security services is growing. We have more building and facilities requiring security services, and high quality security services. More building owners are now aware of the heightened terror threats and are keen to protect their assets. They have to answer to their board, to their owners, on what they are doing to keep their assets safe. We can see the growth through the rapid growth of the value-add of the sector, at 10% per year over the last five years – you can't say this about many sectors.


11.     But this growth cannot be sustained if we remain as manpower-intensive in the future. Security industry manpower grew at a rate of 5% per annum in the last five years; about double the growth rate of total employment in Singapore. This is still not enough to meet the increasing demand. Many security officers work very long hours to compensate for the shortfall. The Employment Act stipulates the maximum number of overtime hours allowed, and the security industry is the only industry that is given an exemption for day-to-day operations. On occasion, some other sector may have special projects, they may grant some exemption for a limited period. But for day-to-day operations, the security industry is the only one that is given overtime exemption. Bearing in mind that jobs are improving in other sectors, what this means is that the security industry will face even stiffer competition in recruitment and retention in future. 


12.     To improve productivity and job attractiveness, we took a major step to introduce the Progressive Wage Model (or PWM) to raise skills as well as wages. Wages of security guards grew by 23% annually between 2014 and 2016. This is quite significant. Wages will rise further next year and each year thereafter, for all grades from Security Officers to Senior Security Supervisors, as announced by the Security Tripartite Cluster last year.


13.     Another decisive step by the industry to improve working conditions and productivity is to commit to the removal of overtime exemption. Fatigue and safety don't quite go well together. This will come into effect three years from now, from 1 Jan 2021. 


C.     ITM Vision


14.     For these efforts to bear fruit, a few other pieces will need to be put in place. This is the key goal of the Security ITM, to fulfil what vision? Our vision is a vibrant, technologically advanced and competitive security industry that provides quality services at good value. We want to see service providers transform from just supplying manpower, to delivering effective integrated security solutions. We want buyers to have the assurance of improved security outcomes, while keeping a lid on costs. We want security officers to be recognised as skilled professionals, with good career advancement opportunities. A successful transformation of the security industry must bring about better value for buyers, better jobs for Singaporeans, and at the same time, better security for all of us.


15.     How can we realise the vision of a vibrant, technologically advanced and competitive security industry that provides quality services at good value?


The ITM will adopt four strategies:


  1. First, a decisive push for technology and innovation

  2. Second, active promotion of best sourcing, with Government taking the lead

  3. Third, align regulations to raise standards

  4. Fourth, invest in skills to support technology adoption and career advancement 


    Let me say more about each of these strategies. 


D.     Strategy 1: Technology and Innovation


16.     Our first strategy is to make a decisive push for technology and innovation. That is really because technology and innovation can transform how security functions are performed, and the job of a security officer. We are not blindly pursuing technology and innovation. It is a means to an end, and the end is that we want security functions to be performed in a different way they are today, and very importantly we want the job of the security officer to change for the better.


17.     For example, CCTVs can replace routine, labour-intensive patrolling. Video analytics alert security officers monitoring CCTV feeds to anomalies, like intrusions and loitering. This technology is already available. For large-scale premises, advanced analytics that use machine learning can already be deployed to help detect abnormal activities. Why do we want this? This enables fewer officers to oversee a larger, and even more complex set-up. Instead of continuous patrolling from one end of the building to another end, and not always being able to cover all the nooks and crannies, this technology can help them to focus on making judgements and responding to incidents instead. In other words, apply their mind, make judgments, instead of incurring all that time just to check things out.


18.     To support companies new to these technologies, the Industry Digital Plan (or IDP) will promote broad-based adoption of market-ready solutions. These are solutions that are not waiting to be invented. They are already available, they are market ready. MHA and IMDA are developing such a digital plan, tailored for the security industry, under the SMEs Go Digital programme. Security SMEs will get step-by-step guidance on pre-approved proven solutions that come with funding support. We expect to launch the IDP for the security industry by the middle of this year.


19.     Next, IMDA will also support pilot projects to scale up the implementation of solutions that will potentially transform the whole industry, not just enterprise by enterprise, but the whole industry. One example is Concorde's iMan Facility Sprinter, or IFS, which was featured in the video. The IFS is a command centre in a van that wirelessly receives CCTV feeds from a cluster of buildings in an area. Multiple buildings can share resources with a command centre and a response team.


20.     Currently, the IFS is deployed at more than 140 premises. Productivity gains have been very promising. In Bedok, one particular cluster of ten buildings managed to reduce their security manpower requirements from 10 to just two. Two people can do the job that 10 people used to do. But of course, with support from the roving IFS. An early adopter of the IFS is another SME, a company by the name of Luzerne. Luzerne has two buildings in Kallang. They reaped cost savings of 60% over two years. In addition, their security monitoring has become more consistent and reliable, with fewer blind spots. At certain sites, Concorde security officers now work shorter shifts. This is a major benefit that has the potential to make the job of a security officer much more attractive than it is today. The ability to not have to work very long graveyard shifts continuously. With support from IMDA, Concorde will be deploying the IFS to secure another 30 premises in an area in Tuas, and this time round, instead of 30 security guards, they need just 9. Very significant savings too.


21.     To further promote innovation, IMDA will launch a Call for Innovative Solutions for the security sector, because we believe there will be even more possibility for innovative solutions than what is already available, so you have to keep this innovation going. Don't just stop at what we can already see, touch and feel. This programme that IMDA is spearheading, enables buyers to partner security agencies and tech companies to co-develop innovative solutions that are not yet available in the market. You have an idea, you think that you can do it even better than what current systems are able to do. IMDA, together with MHA and security experts, will select and support proposals that solve security challenges, enhance productivity and seed new ideas with the potential to transform the industry. IMDA will hold industry briefings in early March to share more details. So it is coming very soon. 


E.     Strategy 2: Best Sourcing


22.     While promoting technology adoption and improving innovation capacity on the supply side, it is equally important to bring about change on the demand side. It is the buyers who determine what is in demand. They shape the kind of security services and outcomes provided by the security agencies. The customer calls the shots. 


23.     Therefore, our second strategy is to actively promote best sourcing, and help buyers become "smarter" buyers.


24.     What makes a buyer "smarter"?

  • First, they can become smart about new solutions that are better value-for-money. They can start by getting a more thorough understanding of their security needs through a risk assessment, and deciding what outcomes are important to them. Just like many of us, when we buy a big ticket item, we do research, we think through. Do we really need all the features? Or actually, maybe these are the key features that we need. Now for buyers of security services, a security agency can help them to do the risk assessment. If they do the risk assessment right, the tender specification would then not be based on just the headcount but really, based on the security outcomes that they would like to see. The tender evaluation, after the bids obviously, the tender evaluation should also be done holistically, instead of separately for technology and for manpower. You have to put the two together and see what is the best possible mix that you can get. This will allow service providers to propose solutions that combine technology and manpower effectively because for as long as you evaluate them separately, then when they submit the tender, they still have to wonder, will my technology pass muster, will my manpower pass muster, separately on their own rather than together.  So that is the first thing.
  • The second thing smart buyers do is to develop long-term partnerships with their security providers, rather than keep switching based on lowest-cost to an unfamiliar firm every one or two years, which may not deliver. They promise lower cost but whether they deliver or not is a question mark. By doing so, the security staff will also benefit from a larger and more meaningful job scope, higher skills, and better assurance about their employment terms.


25.     JTC is a good example of a "smart buyer". Having conducted feasibility studies and consulted with various service providers, JTC will be launching an outcome-based tender for cluster guarding of their properties in one-north. Security agencies have the flexibility to propose to JTC how best to achieve the security outcomes. For example, by consolidating multiple command centres, and deploying video analytics and quick response teams. This is more efficient than providing a fixed number of guards for each building.


26.     As it turns out, this cluster concept is not new, but it is not yet common. The main difficulty is getting different organisations to aggregate demand and install sensors and also to share information. Through this project, JTC expects to see productivity savings of more than 20%, and more importantly, they hope and we hope to demonstrate the benefits of outcome-based contracts and cluster guarding to other building owners so that they can also see the benefits.


27.     How can we support more security service buyers to adopt best sourcing? The government is in a position to take the lead and will do so. Our target is for most government agencies to adopt outcome-based security contracts by 2020. So that is not a very long time frame. We are in 2018, and by 2020, we hope and we work towards getting most government agencies on board. If there are a few who have difficulties, we will work with them to speed up the process. This will include conducting security risk assessments, of course, we must also do that and establishing longer contract durations, which will provide lead demand for service providers to transform. 


28.     We will also support other buyers who are keen to take the first step. NTUC U Care Centre is administering a new pilot grant, the Smart Sourcing Initiative (SSI). This scheme will provide funding support to service buyers in not just security, but also cleaning and landscape sectors which implement outcome-based contracts and train their procurement staff to be familiar with best sourcing principles. So that is what the NTUC U Care Centre will do. Help buyers adopt best sourcing principles. In addition, the Security Productivity Initiative introduced by Workforce Singapore last year also provides customised support for service buyers and security agencies to implement job redesign and tech adoption projects. The reason why this is important is because significant share of the security workforce are seniors and we want to take advantage of the opportunity to redesign the jobs so that they can continue to perform these jobs effectively. So you need job redesign and you also need to help them acquire the ability to handle the new technologies. This will help ensure that technology solutions are effectively deployed to improve productivity and security outcomes.


29.     In addition, we will launch a guide on best practices in procuring security services by the middle of this year. This tripartite guide will explain how to go about planning and evaluating an outcome-based tender for security services. We will also develop training programmes on best sourcing for security, targeted at procurement officers and service providers, to be launched by next year. 


30.     There will be outreach efforts by the Security Industry Council, comprising the Union of Security Employees, Security Association Singapore and Association of Certified Security Agencies. They will conduct a series of seminars in the first half of this year for buyers in the commercial and industrial sectors.


F.     Strategy 3: Regulations


31.     Our third strategy is to align regulations to raise standards. Every year, the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department conducts the Security Agencies Grading Exercise (or SAGE) as a quality benchmark for the industry. Starting this year, SAGE will place greater emphasis on security outcomes, continuous training and technology adoption. This will clearly differentiate agencies that invest in training and technology, and deliver high-quality services. 


32.     This review was not done by PLRD alone, it was done in close consultation with the industry and union. The new SAGE emphasises factors that directly affect security outcomes. One example is in the area of Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs. Previously, security agencies were assessed on whether they have or did not have SOPs to deal with scenarios such as bomb threats and fire emergencies, and whether their officers knew where the documents were kept at their deployment site. But we all know that actually we need to be able to do more than that. Under the new SAGE, officers would need to be able to explain key SOPs, why do you have these SOPs, what purposes does it serve and they must also demonstrate the competence to execute the SOPs. In other words, not just that you have the SOPs, you know where is it kept but you actually know what is in the SOP and you know how to implement the SOP when the time comes. So it is a higher bar. Agencies will also be assessed on whether they conduct exercises to test the effectiveness of these SOPs. Is it just a paper exercise or actually you have done it and you know it works. These new criteria will motivate security agencies to invest in staff training and retention, so as to build a team of officers who are proficient in carrying out their duties.


33.     The assessment on technology adoption has also been enhanced. It provides a clearer signal to security agencies on specific areas they can invest in. These include technology to monitor or support operations, to manage incidents, and facilitate their officers' learning and development. 


34.     The new SAGE will raise the bar for security agencies. It will establish clear standards in areas which are key to building innovative companies that deliver high-quality security solutions. It will also help the buyers recognise quality security agencies and make better buying decisions.


G.     Strategy 4: Skills


35.     Let me turn now to the fourth strategy which is to invest in skills to support technology adoption, raise professionalism and promote career advancement. Our decisive push for technology must be supported by a well-trained security workforce, and bring about more attractive careers. The goal must be to have better jobs performed by better workers.


36.     To support this effort, I am pleased to launch the Skills Framework for Security today. This is a comprehensive guide on careers and skills in the security industry, developed by SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and the Ministry of Home Affairs together with industry stakeholders. What does this Skills Framework do? Well, it identifies key competencies for the security industry, as well as emerging skills, skills you will need in the future, for example, risk analysis and adoption of new technologies. How do you do that? This is laid out in the Skills Framework.


37.     It points the way forward for security officers to gain higher skills and earn better wages. One example of a security officer who has made the advancement is Aminur Rashid, a control room executive in Metropolis Security. Rashid started as a security officer, and he worked his way to be a security supervisor through continuous learning and developing his leadership skills. He was not just a good worker, but he also showed leadership potential. Today, he is responsible for coordinating deployment of security officers at multiple sites. All his officers are equipped with smartphones, and status reports are captured real-time in the command centre. What the Skills Framework does for Rashid is to point out that security officers like him, in order to be effective, have to learn to rely on technology to supervise the security officers under their charge because if they do not use the technology that is available to them then their ability to supervise effectively will be curtailed. By mastering this as well as other new skills, they can advance in their profession.


38.     Programmes are available to support both new entrants and existing workers. For example, ITE offers a Work-Learn Technical Diploma in Security Systems Engineering for ITE graduates to take up jobs as systems engineers and project engineers, which is a new career progression pathway in security technology. Existing security officers can also tap on the SkillsFuture Series to take modular courses in emerging skills such as data analytics and tech-enabled services, or apply for the SkillsFuture Study Awards to pursue security-related Diploma and Degree courses.


39.     A key feature of the new Skills Framework for Security is a new career pathway in security consultancy. Expertise in security consultancy is a key enabler to transform the industry. The security consultant carries out risk assessments to identify what needs to be protected – based on the threats, vulnerabilities and risks to a facility – as well as how to best to provide this protection. In other words, they help ensure the solution put in place is effective and best meets the buyer's needs.


40.     To develop expertise in this area, MHA's Centre for Protective Security Studies will partner the Security Industry Institute under Temasek Polytechnic to develop and offer a new Specialist Diploma in Security Consultancy. This one year part-time programme covers risk assessment, building security and relevant legislation, security technologies, and project management. MHA and Temasek Polytechnic will sign an MOU later to mark this collaboration, which will help transfer protective security expertise in the Home Team to the private sector. The first intake is planned for next year, so you do not have a lot of time. The first intake is planned for next year because you have to start making course information available. The aim is that by 2021, again not a long time, to train 250 consultants. By doing so, what we hope is that all security agencies would have at least one skilled professional who can help their clients put in place integrated security solutions and outcome-based contracts. This also allows security officers to have an opportunity to pursue a new career path in security consultancy, beyond the five grades within the PWM. In other words, there is another tier you can go up to. 


H.     Conclusion


41.     So let me wrap up my speech. Through these four strategies – technology and innovation, best sourcing, regulations alignment, and skills development – these four strategies, we have the prospect of transforming the security industry. 


42.     Besides the agencies I have mentioned so far, SPRING Singapore – or Enterprise Singapore in the future – has also come on board to offer holistic support to SMEs in our sector, not just in technology adoption and skills upgrading, but also other aspects of organisational excellence that can help them to make progress.


43.     A lot of work has been put in to get us to this point. I would like to thank the Security ITM Tripartite Committee for providing so many useful insights and helping to shape the ITM's vision and our strategies. I would also like to thank the Security Industry Institute for co-organising today's event, with the support of SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore. If you will just allow me to say something in Mandarin.






未来三年, 政府将投入大约一千万, 通过各项措施打造一个先进, 蓬勃, 高效的保安业, 并促进保安人员的专业发展.


44.     So friends and colleagues, the security industry is on the verge of an exciting phase of transformation. Our work has reached a milestone and yet we are also at a new beginning. The challenges are significant but so are the opportunities.  


45.     In total, the government will invest about $10 million over the next three years to support the initiatives under the Security ITM and to implement the strategies that I outlined earlier. There is comprehensive support for all the key stakeholders - the security agencies, the technology providers, the people working in the industry, as well as the buyers of security services.  Our vision of a vibrant, technologically-advanced and competitive security industry that delivers quality and value is worth striving for.  We invite everyone to come on board and embrace this transformation. So on that note, I thank you all in advance for your support!


Security Industry