The civil service has stopped grouping its officers according to their education levels, in a move to address the impression that the career progression of a civil servant is determined by paper qualifications.
Since Jan 1, the civil service has ceased describing its officers by their division status in employee manuals, circulars and policies, the Public Service Division (PSD) told The Straits Times.
There were four divisions.
Division I officers were graduates, Division II officers were diploma and A-level certificate holders, Division III officers had secondary education, and those in Division IV had primary education.
As of 2013, 56 per cent of the 80,000 civil servants were in Division I. About one-third were in Division II, and 7 per cent and 5 per cent in Division III and IV respectively.
Now, officers will be referred to by their existing grades, which reflect their job scope and pay range.
"The change is in recognition that this administrative classification could leave a perception that our officers' capabilities and potential for higher-level work are determined or limited by their educational qualifications, which is not so," PSD said. It noted that educational qualifications could be used to assess a job seeker with no work experience. But an officer's career progression would be based on his job performance and readiness to take on greater responsibilities, it added.
Also, relevant work experience would be more important than academic qualifications when assessing mid-career candidates, PSD said.
The change follows recent moves by the civil service to stop distinguishing between graduates and non-graduates in its ranks.
For instance, non-degree holders joining the civil service to perform management support roles have been hired under the same Management Executive Scheme as university graduates since August 2015.
Since October 2015, teachers without degrees have been put on the same pay scale as their peers who are graduates. The Singapore Police Force, too, revised its rank structure last July so that its non-graduate officers can rise through the ranks faster.
Such moves "provide equal opportunities for career advancement and development to both graduate and non-graduate officers who are assessed to have the same performance and potential", the PSD said.
Mr Yeo Chun Fing, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees, said members had complained of supervisors having reservations about promoting them to roles normally performed by officers of a higher division. The change will reinforce the point that one's ability should not be based rigidly on paper qualifications, he said. "This is in line with the civil service's move towards describing people by their capabilities and potential rather than their education level."
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said Singapore's largest employer is setting an example for other sectors to rethink their recruitment and talent development policies. "Hopefully, this will gradually lead society to focus less on the paper chase."A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Civil servants no longer grouped by education level'.