Speech by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, at the Official Launch of the Certis Corporate University

Published Date: 25 November 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Olivier Lim, Chairman, Certis

Mr Paul Chong, Group Chief Executive Officer, Certis


Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning. I am pleased to join you today at the launch of the Certis Corporate University.

Developments in the Security Industry

2. Digitalisation and technological advances have fundamentally changed the way that we live and work. They have paved the way for transformative changes in the way businesses operate, consumers consume products and services, and also the way we serve our customers. Therefore, in that process, they have disrupted industries and also given rise to new business models. But new business models need not necessarily be implemented by new companies. It can be done by incumbent companies who are prepared to reinvent themselves.

3. The security industry has not been spared from this change. Automation and 'thinking machines' are increasingly able to replace human tasks. From a pessimistic viewpoint, we can say all these will be very disruptive. It will displace workers and disrupt existing players. But we can also take an optimistic viewpoint, which means we can see that technology frees up precious manpower to perform higher value roles and raise productivity. We can help incumbent players raise their game, reinvent themselves, and reinvent their products and services, which is what I think Certis is doing.

4. The security industry has been troubled by a lack of manpower and the need to raise productivity significantly, for a long time now. It is therefore imperative that it leverages technologies that are available to us now and upgrades the skills of its workforce to raise the capability of both the company and the industry. Today, let me outline the four things that I have observed that the industry – not just the security industry, but many other industries – is embarking on.

5. The first is better buying behaviour. For the security industry, that means better contracts. A good example is the JTC South-West Security Master contract that was awarded to Certis a few months ago. This was quite a breakthrough. Because typically, security contracts are awarded for individual buildings, and they specify the number of guards and security officers you must deploy. This new master contract breaks this old mould decisively. It consolidates security requirements for more than 60 properties and land space of JTC, across 150 square kilometres across South and West Singapore.

6. It also adopts an outcome-based approach, instead of a manpower input-based approach. This means there is now flexibility for the security agency to move away from the traditional model of site-based deployment. Instead, the use of remote monitoring, coupled with real-time despatch of mobile teams, allows for better outcomes and higher productivity. And that is just a start. I thought that JTC was a trailblazer in this aspect, but we also have many private sector players, particularly many of our significant mall operators, including Changi Airport Group, who have undertaken this model. I hope that this is the turning point, where the entire Singapore buying market will change its behaviour and move towards an outcome-based approach that will give you the flexibility to implement more efficient use of manpower.

7. Related to that is the second thrust, which is to embrace technology. If we can better complement the strengths of manpower and technology, we will be able to transform the sector and upgrade the jobs in the industry, which has been too manpower intensive for too long. If some of this work can be replaced by technology, and if in the meantime there will be fewer, but better jobs, I think it is a deal that we should go for. And it is a direction that we should take.

8. I am pleased to hear and learn that Certis has unveiled itself as an advanced integrated security provider. It is going beyond the physical guarding service, to offer a single integrated solution encompassing advanced security, guest services and integrated facilities management, which also means the workers will have to be multi-skilled. It is also able to leverage its strengths in operations and process design, to help clients transform their operations.

9. Certis has launched a Living Lab in Commonwealth Lane, where it has operationalised new technologies to help drive process optimisation and enhance service levels. Certis has also launched a Centre for Applied Intelligence, a research hub that collaborates with valued partners to develop AI-enabled business service solutions.

10. For the third thrust - we need to upgrade the skills of workers in the industry. The industry needs to invest in training and skills development to prepare its workforce for this very important transformation.

11. To do so, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) is working with key partners to roll out various skills upgrading initiatives to support companies and industry such as yours. For example, SSG, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and the Ministry of Home Affairs have co-developed and launched the Security Industry Digital Plan last year. The plan includes training programmes on digital and soft skills, to be delivered by the Security Industry Institute under Temasek Polytechnic. SSG has also worked with the Institute to encourage security agencies and service buyers to come on board outcome-based contracting, such as the JTC model I mentioned earlier.

12. To make skills upgrading more accessible to workers in the security industry, SSG is working with the Union of Security Employees and the Security Association of Singapore to curate bite-sized learning and resources for the industry.

13. I think the key is this. The typical new hire into the industry – not just the security industry, but in all industries in future – is changing. Moving forward, I think, the typical new hire is someone with minimally a Higher Nitec or a diploma. If it is not immediately upon hire, they will reach that level at some point in their career. As it is today, about half of our cohort go through the diploma route at the polytechnics. This is a transformation where we see workers who are a lot more qualified than before. And these are workers who will work in an environment in which they will need to be multi-skilled, technologically enabled, and more productive. And it requires industry and companies to transform in order to be able to hire such workers. If your company and industry work on the basis of a low-skilled and low-wage worker, I think there is no way you can sustain this model, at least not in the Singapore context. This transformation is critical for the industry and also for the whole Singapore economy.

14. Which leads to the fourth thrust that I am observing. To make this transformation, we need leaders in every industry to take the lead for the change, and show the rest of the industry how this change can be brought about. While government agencies such as JTC and SSG can play a catalytic role, it is the players in the industry that bring real and sustained change that is widespread. Industry leaders can take the lead and bring along other players in the industry and along the value chain. They are what we call Queen Bees, and they have a special responsibility. The Queen Bee is a very hardworking bee, and it is constantly reproducing offspring. And that is why we describe you as a Queen Bee. It is the constant hard work that you're going to invest in reproducing new players who will understand that they too need to embark on this transformative journey. As the SkillsFuture movement grows and evolves over time, we need to invest more efforts to partner Queen Bee companies such as Certis.

15. The Certis Corporate University will help drive sector transformation and skills adoption. It will deliver technical, technological and leadership skills training. It can enhance the capabilities of companies, by guiding them through business process re-engineering, applied learning and upskilling. Certis has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SSG, to leverage the Certis Corporate University to upgrade skills and knowhow throughout its value chain. It will pay special attention to the small and medium-sized enterprises, smaller Security Agencies as well as the users of Certis services.

16. Certis has invested some $10 million into this corporate university, which features a purpose-built facility with state of the art learning technologies.

17. This is a strategic move for the security industry. Let me congratulate Certis on the launch of the Certis Corporate University, and thank you for your continued investment in driving the sector's jobs, skills and talent transformation efforts. I wish Certis every success in forging new frontiers, both in Singapore and on the global stage.

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