Above image: Minister K Shanmugam (in white) during a recent visit to the Integrated Checkpoints Command (Land) at Tuas Checkpoint. Photo credit: Minister K Shanmugam’s official Facebook Page.
The Home Team Academy (HTA), which is the training arm of the Home Team, is one of the seven departments of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and was officially opened in September 2006. In his speech at the HTA Workplan Seminar 2017 on June 13, Minister K Shanmugam explained the four areas of focus that will help the HT build a robust training and learning ecosystem:
Enhancing Frontline Training
The basic principle is that Home Team has to train people and train people in the right environment. They must experience it, so that when they face a real situation, they know, "this is familiar to me, I know what to do", their reflexes kick in, instinctive and decisive. One way to bring realism is to use simulators, which gives them an immersive and interactive environment. It will be possible to expose officers to a range of scenarios, and it provides immediate feedback. These simulators are being rolled out at the frontline as well as at the training institutes. Minister K Shanmugam spoke about his visit to the Bedok Division, where he saw the “Mobile Classroom”, or MobiC. It is a mobile simulator platform. The idea is that it goes around to the different Neighbourhood Police Centres.
Before their duties start, officers spend about 40 minutes and can train a number of officers at the same time. It takes day-to-day real scenarios and puts it into a Virtual Reality (VR) format and officers are trained to react and they are assessed based on how they react. Domestic disputes, coffee shop incidents, terrorism incidents, and we try and make it as realistic as possible. It has the advantage of being realistic, bite-sized and the training is brought to the ground. The Home Team will also roll out the Home Team Simulation System, which is a virtual command post for commanders to face a range of situations and then test their decision-making skills in different scenarios.
There are challenges in giving phones to officers and asking them to learn on their own. A lot of people may find it difficult to set aside the time for it. They may not find it interactive enough, but they have to try. Last October, HTA rolled out the Home Team Learning Management System (HTLMS). It is really a one-stop portal to support individual, department and domain learning needs, and over 38,000 officers have been given this format and every Home Team officer now has a learning account.
A mobile app is being developed to facilitate access to this system, which allows officers to access training materials on-the-go, using their personal devices – smart phones and tablets, and let the officers learn at their own pace. HTA and Home Team training schools are also growing their learning content in e-format, and develop bite-sized training packages that people will be able to access.
A Strong Foundation for One Home Team
The Home Team has to strengthen joint operations and adopt a “One Home Team” mindset. HTA plays a critical role in that because it can bring officers together and get them to work seamlessly in a joint operations type of thinking. Last year, HTA rolled out the Home Team Induction Programme to bring officers and civilians together, across the Home Team. This year, the HTA has partnered the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to produce two core Home Team modules – one, "Home Team Integration", and second, "Home Team Ethos, Values and Ethics". These will become foundation courses for every Home Team officer and the courses will be accredited by SUSS.
Developing Home Team’s Trainers and Leaders
Training is fundamentally about investing in people. In particular, the Home Team trainers are a key part of the Home Team’s training ecosystem. That cannot work without the trainers. HTA’s ability to transform the entire ecosystem and direct the organisation to where they want it to go to depends on the trainers.
Trainers will be actively supported through the running of a customised, specialised programme, jointly developed with NIE International to give the trainers competencies.
Read the full speech by Minister K Shanmugam here.