The Expertise Conversion Scheme (ECS) is one of the recommendations by the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) that was launched in July 2014. The ECS provides opportunities for our National Servicemen (NSmen) to continue contributing to national defence even after Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) with their relevant civilian expertise. This allows the SAF to tap on Singapore's talent pool to expand its operational capabilities in niche areas of civilian expertise.
Examples of such niche areas of expertise include law, medicine, engineering, psychology, info-communications and ship operations. Some examples of the specific roles they may assume are legal advisers in the various fields of law (e.g. military law, international humanitarian law, etc), nursing officers, dental officers and radiography officers.
The ECS is based on the Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES), which is premised on civilian professional expertise in key military domains and comprises a rank structure organised according to qualifications and experience. In recognition of the expanded scope of responsibility in their new roles, NSmen converted under the ECS will be promoted to the rank of Military Expert 4 (ME4) upon full completion of training.
Under this scheme, NS WOSEs (Warrant Officers, Specialists and Enlistees) holding specialised professional qualifications identified by the SAF as operationally relevant will be recommended to join the ECS. Interested applicants can also register their interest with the NS Relations Officers in their Formation or Division Headquarters. This scheme is primarily for NSmen who have completed their ORNS commitments. NSmen with existing ORNS commitments may also be considered for conversion to meet SAF's operational requirements. Such applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Rigorous Selection and Comprehensive Training
Besides stringent qualification and background checks to ensure that they possess the appropriate expertise for the roles, shortlisted NS WOSEs will need to possess sound leadership qualities and good character attributes. After passing the recommending board interview, they will undergo training comprising three components: (1) Specialisation Training; (2) Joint Leadership Training; and (3) On-Job-Training (OJT). This is to allow them to level up their skills set with that of their military and MDES counterparts. Depending on the requirements specific to the roles, the specialisation training can take between one to six weeks. The Joint Leadership Programme is a one-week programme. Thereafter, they will be required to serve at least two OJTs before they complete the entire training process. Upon completion of all three components of training, they will be promoted to the rank of ME4. Henceforth, depending on operational requirements and availability of suitable candidates, there will be up to two batches of ECS conversion every year.
As NSmen converting under the ECS will be holding senior MDES ranks, they will have their NS statutory age raised to 50 years, similar to their NS officer counterparts. They will be required to serve in their new rank and roles for a minimum period of three years. Additionally, they are liable for call up for up to 40 days per year.
All NSmen who converted under the ECS will be compensated in accordance with the compensation framework for NSmen. Their loss in civilian income during their period of service will be compensated by makeup pay.
Differentiation with Other Schemes
The ECS is not a replacement for the current ROVERS or Volunteer schemes. It is a scheme which personnel take on MDES ranks. The ECS is also different from the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) as the SAFVC is intended for women, first generation permanent residents and new citizens who are not required to serve NS.