The inaugural Community of Practice (CoP) of National Service (NS) Advocates, made up of employers and business owners, was launched by Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How today. The CoP of NS Advocates aims to support NS and Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) through ground-up initiatives that are initiated, co-created, owned and sustained by the CoP.
At the CoP launch event, senior leaders from 33 notable companies came together to generate and discuss ideas for potential projects or initiatives to strengthen support for NS. These companies include multinational corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, trade associations and chambers of commerce that have implemented pro-NS policies and practices within their respective organisations.
There were five project ideas showcased at the event. These ideas include a career transformation, education, and support programme for NSmen, a fitness app that enables employers to encourage their NSmen employees to keep fit, and a mentorship programme for NSmen by NSmen. The project ideas are either extensions of the employers' current business activities and customised to address the needs of NSmen, or specifically developed with supporting NS in mind.
SMS Heng highlighted the significance of the CoP in strengthening support for NS. He said, "The quality of ideas and the robust conversations we had today are the strongest signs of the high level of commitment and support that our employers and businesses give to NS and NSmen. It is my hope that the CoP of NS Advocates facilitates and amplifies these efforts into a larger positive feedback loop of value creation, so that NSmen's contributions are better recognised and acknowledged amongst the employers and businesses community, and reciprocally that NSmen appreciate the efforts and resources put into these ground-up initiatives by these employers and businesses."
Mr Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, Group Chairman, InfoFabrica Holdings Pte Ltd, who attended the CoP, added, "The CoP of NS Advocates will rally supportive employers and businesses together to sustain support and value add to NS in different areas, and amplify current efforts in advocating support for NS. Through initiatives like these, we can increase support for NSmen and their employers as we emerge from the disruptions caused by COVID-19." Mr Bakar is also Co-Chairman of Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) Employer & Business Council Work Group 3, which focuses on Strengthening Support and Advocating for NS.
First mooted at the 2020 ACCORD meeting, the idea for a CoP of NS Advocates was to sustain NS advocacy efforts in the employer and business community, strengthen support for NS, and proliferate ‘Support for NS' as a national culture.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will be sharing the curated ideas within the wider community of NS Advocates. NS Advocates will be invited to select ideas they feel an affinity toward, and with fellow NS Advocates, form CoPs centred on their chosen ideas to develop the ideas into projects or initiatives that they will own, implement and sustain. MINDEF will facilitate the networking among NS Advocates and leverage ACCORD's influence and network to catalyse the development of ideas into feasible projects.