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Co-opting retired talent for mutual advantage

Cooperatives are social enterprises that are run and owned by their own members. In the second of a four-part series, we speak to Premier Security Co-operative.

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IVAN TEO on 21 May 2014

The Straits Times

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Ex-police, military personnel can put expertise to good use amid job crunch

 

PREMIER Security Co-operative is leading the way when it comes to making smart use of the talents of Singapore’s retirees – some in their late 70s.

 

The organisation was set up in 1984 to provide jobs for retired police and military personnel.

 

And given the labour crunch affecting this and many other sectors, and the push to employ older workers, Premier is now something of a shining example.

 

Premier – formed by the merger of the Singapore Police Co-operative Society and the Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-operative Society – provides security officers, 24-hour surveillance and security consultancy services.

 

Managing director William Seak sums up the enormous value of its personnel. “These retired police and other armed forces officers have spent a lifetime keeping us safe and secure. Now we want to help them back by providing them with another form of security – job security.”

 

The cooperative employs other staff who fulfil the requirements but gives priority to retired police and armed forces officers.

 

Most of its security officers are in their 40s. The youngest is just 18 and the oldest 78.

 

“Premier Security provides an opportunity to put their expertise and experience to good use. Security officers do an important job. Our persons and properties are in their hands,” Mr Seak says.

 

However, not everyone is cut out for the job.

 

Prospective security officers have to possess good physical and mental health, and must also clear a background check by the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department. This means that most of the cooperative’s security officers are locals, though there are some from Malaysia.

 

And in collaboration with training providers NTUC Learning Hub and Kaplan, Premier Security provides basic training courses which prospective security officers must pass in order to be certified.

 

The cooperative conducts its courses on site as well as at its 5,000 sq ft office in Jalan Besar.

 

Despite the fairly strict selection criteria, the ranks of security officers in Premier Security have grown over the years.

 

Starting out with two officers in the 1980s, it now has around 700 security officers and 30 administrative staff.

 

The cooperative’s clients include Resorts World Sentosa, United World College and Lot One mall.

 

It is Singapore’s only cooperative in the security business.

 

The main challenge confronting the security business is a lack of suitable labour.

 

“There is an acute shortage of manpower due to the stringent criteria,” says Mr Seak.

 

One way to help tackle the shortage is through the use of equipment such as X-rays and closed-circuit television cameras. Using such equipment also helps improve productivity and lighten the job burden for the security officers, he adds.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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