RE: To join or not to join?

As the academic year draws nearer and nearer to a close, you will often see your friends upgrading their economic status: from an undergraduate to the working class. And I am sure that many of you have heard of people from either side groaning, “The grass is greener on the other side!” “I miss studying!” “How I wish I could just start working now, studying is such a bore!”

More often than not, you would also hear exclamations of “Gosh! You signed on with the Ministry of Education (MOE)!! That’s crazy!” “You?! A teacher?! Wahahahah, don’t be kidding me.” “Tsk, I wouldn’t want to send my child to the school you are teaching at!” All these, perhaps in a joking manner, or perhaps not.

I too, have acquaintances who fit into the two categories above: graduating and going into the working class; and graduating and going into National Institute of Education (NIE). As I gathered, the primary reason for them to sign on with MOE for a 3 (or 4, I’m not sure which) year bond, is mainly because MOE has the moolah and they don’t. Simple as that. Nothing holistic like I love teaching, or I love kids. Well, I do have a friend who purely loves kids and loves teaching them too, but she’s the only exception.

Come to think of it, another reason might also be related to the fact that I am studying in Artsand Social Sciences. But that aside, there is something that I would like to highlight to the rest of the potential teachers/teacher-to-be(s) out there.

I am not sure whether this article is true or not. I am not sure whether CEP applies to MOE or not (I’m sure it does actually). I am not sure you would want to hear it or not. But I am sure that if you want to sign on, you would want to know this.

Therefore I would like you to read this article that Mr. Wang has written in response to a letter published in The Straits Times, 11 April 2007.

The title of the letter Mr. Wang responded to is “Promotion in Civil Service based on Merit”

Some excerpts from Mr. Wang:

To understand how the system works, you first have to understand that performance and potential mean two completely different things in the civil service. They lead to very different, very distinct consequences in the official appraisal system.

What this means is that once you have been assigned your CEP score, the civil service is probably not going to change that score (at least for the next seven or eight years, if ever). After all, CEP is a measure of certain inherent, long-term qualities in you – which cannot change.

Now, the civil service will assign you a CEP score, on your first day of work. Actually, that is untrue – your CEP score is assigned to you, even before you start work. Thus you can see that in terms of actual work, nothing that you actually do (whether it is utterly brilliant, or utterly dumb) can actually affect your CEP score.

And some interesting comments:

Anonymous: This is true in the past, but I think the civil service is trying to move away from this gradually, at least I think some statutory boards are trying to move away from this. So now you can see that even an overseas (civilian) scholar may not get his promotion until 3 years even with reasonable performance, though a non-scholar can promote in 2 years with good performance.

Anonymous: MW, have to disagree with the CEP being something that doesn’t change at all for the SAF. Definitely individuals are pegged with certain CEPs based on pedigree BEFORE they start but have heard of local grads with mediocre degrees getting fast tracked after proving themselves the initial years. Not quite possible if their CEP hasn’t changed right?

Anonymous: For someone who’s not in the civil service, you’ve got most of the details correct. Kudos…You would also know that our civil service adopted this appraisal system from Royal Dutch Shell, However, I understand that Shell itself has stopped using this system or at least modified it (Shell insiders can perhaps provide more info here).

Anonymous: As an ex-employee of a government body and a GLC, and having worked on the HR front, I would say much of what Mr Wang say is not too far off the mark.

Have I piqued your interest? Click here to read more.

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8 thoughts on “RE: To join or not to join?

  1. CEP for civil service is not fixed for your entire lifetime. In fact, CEP means Current Estimated Potential. It depends much on the supervisors who are estimating your potential. Much also depends on which ministry or which area you are in.

    The initial CEP is of course based on your academic results if you are fresh from school. But it can change after each workyear. The idea of CEP is partly stolen from the oil company, Shell. And the reason behind it is to separate someone who is purely hardworking and someone who has certain special qualities or talents.

  2. Hmmm… I’ve just read Mr Wang’s post.

    In civil service (at least in the services I know), promotion is based only on performance. The only thing CEP does is determine how fast you can get promoted (provided that you have been performing up to a certain level consistently).

    It makes no sense to have the following scenario – an officer who has utterly outstanding performance and extremely low potential. Putting aside silly supervisors, anyone with common sense would point out that someone who can produce brilliant performance also has high potential.

    So, CEP changes. Though I know there are supervisors who are too lazy to know their subordinates well, and too lazy to change the CEP, thus the CEP remains… Okay, enough about silly supervisors.

    Mr Wang is right in saying that CEP depends much on academic qualifications. I mean, which government does not want its citizens to be as educated as possible. Being the biggest employer around, of course the civil service would put a premium on academic qualifications.

    Hmmm… Chaosm is not supposed to be politically or even socially-aware. I just like to wallow in my own silly despairs. So… I rest my case. Hah.

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