DURING the first year of his accountancy studies at Nanyang Technological University, Mr Josiah Chia Jun Kit chanced upon the CPF (Central Provident Fund) Scholarship online, which appealed to his desire to make a difference in Singaporeans’ lives. Says Mr Chia, 28: “I was drawn to how the CPF features in every major milestone in Singaporeans’ lives — be it buying a home, paying for healthcare expenses or preparing for retirement.
“I believe few agencies in public service can offer such a diverse range of opportunities for learning and development.” He applied for the scholarship as he was confident that joining the CPF Board would provide him with a challenging and multi-faceted job, and enable him to have a meaningful public service career. Mr Chia, now a senior manager with CPF Board, recalls having to prepare for the scholarship interviews by beefing up his knowledge about the Board’s operations and its myriad schemes. He went for three interview sessions with the CPF Board’s human resource personnel, underwent psychometric tests, and attended another interview session with its chief executive and several group directors. He successfully clinched the CPF Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholarship in 2011, which covered the tuition fees for the remaining two years of his studies and a monthly allowance, as well as the funds for his overseas exchange programme.
In 2012, Mr Chia began a 10-week internship programme in the CPF Board’s Policy Research Department, where he undertook an individual research project on the state of retirement adequacy of women in Singapore, under close mentorship by a senior officer. One of his tasks was to identify vulnerable population segments by analysing the underlying factors that affected retirement adequacy among women, and studying the feasibility of using initiatives from other countries to address this issue. The project culminated in a final report and presentation to CPF Board’s management. The internship helped him to assimilate into the work culture and build relationships with his co-workers, while the project’s presentation to the organisation’s core management gave him a better idea of what was expected of him. Mr Chia found it heartening to know that his research project contributed towards real policy implementation to help improve retirement adequacy for women. The scholar graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy in 2013 and started work at CPF that same year.
To gain a broader perspective of intra-agency policies, Mr Chia was seconded to the Ministry of Manpower from June 2015 to March 2017. Working at both organisations has enabled him to better appreciate their different perspectives and foster cross-agency working relationships. “Being a scholar has also allowed me to witness first-hand the close interaction between ministry and statutory board stakeholders when designing and implementing government policies,” he says. Mr Chia notes that it is inevitable that the organisations will have differing interests and inclinations. However, he found it “satisfying to see different parties working in tandem towards the ultimate goal — to collectively design and implement effective policies to benefit Singaporeans”.