Singaporeans instinctively turn away when approached for information.
Generally, most of us are skeptical and suspicious of strangers who try to strike up conversations with us.
For Chairat Tan, however, seeking information from strangers is an integral part of his daily job and requires just the right mix of accessibility and tenacity when he has to make 45 calls and 20 home visits a day before the pandemic.
He is a data collector for the Department of Workforce Research and Statistics (MRSD) at the Ministry of Manpower.
“I worked as an investigator and an investigation supervisor. My role allowed me to interact with people from all walks of life and also gave me the opportunity to lead my own team of surveyors ”, explains the happy man, who has gradually climbed the ranks of his career at MRSD.
He continues despite the difficult challenges of his job because he recognizes the fruits of his labor.
As a survey interviewer, he assisted respondents in their survey submissions and explained to them how the data collected helps in the development of workforce policies.
When he became a survey supervisor, his role evolved into coaching interviewers and directing inquiries and comments from respondents and interviewers to the right channels.
Meaning and purpose
Tan emphasizes that the information he gathers is of great benefit to society: “Many workforce policies have been formulated using our survey data. the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) diet is one such policy. It provides cash and CPF payments to more than 400,000 low-wage workers, so they have more for their retirement and can better deal with the COVID-19 situation. “
He recounts a time when he was coming home from work, his neighbor, knowing the work he does, thanked him for having contributed to the development of the WIS system.
“My neighbor was grateful because his family was able to get through this difficult time with extra income,” he says.
Tan discloses that he enjoys talking to respondents from all walks of life, who sometimes share their personal stories and struggles with him. Naturally, he empathizes and goes out of his way to help.
“I remember a respondent calling our hotline to take a survey. He spoke about his financial situation and the fact that he only had $ 600 left in his bank account. He needed to feed his family of five, so he had to borrow money from friends and relatives, ”Tan reveals.
“He shared that he was having difficulty finding a job due to a minor speech impediment and asked for my help looking for a job. I helped him by recommending a few job search platforms, like the MyCareersFuture.gov.sg portal and NTUC e2i.
A few months later, he called me back to tell me that he had found a job as a condominium caretaker. He was grateful for the help and relieved to be able to provide for his family. It made me realize how important my job was to give a helping hand to someone in need.
Tan downplays the good he has done during the three years at MRSD, citing that the realization of the importance of his work from heartwarming moments like these has renewed his commitment to his role in public service. repeatedly.
An invaluable experience
“My minor contributions impact members of the public. At first I thought I was just calculating numbers. After my neighbor thanked me, I realized that there are thousands of others who also benefit from my work, ”he reveals.
Tan shares that while he enjoyed working in the field, he was also eager to explore other areas of survey planning and learn new skills. When the opportunity to move up to a statistician position arose, he applied and got it.
Most importantly for him, his new position allows him to continue doing what he loves and apply his past experience.
“As a statistics manager, in addition to data collection, I would also need an analytical mind. We are encouraged to constantly improve ourselves. This year, I am learning technical skills, such as R programming and Python, to analyze data, and create dashboards using PowerBI and Tableau to better present the data, ”he explains.
Such data analysis tools improve the efficiency of data collection and help Tan better plan his tasks and resource allocation, especially when he needs to map the locations his investigators need to visit.
How to tell the good guys
Tan acknowledges that the legitimacy of a MOM data collector is the primary concern of those interviewed.
When in doubt, he encourages members of the public to verify investigators ‘unique identifiers, which they can enter into the MOM hotline, or to request an identity card issued by the investigators’ MOM for face-to-face interviews. .
“The legitimacy of the data collector is key to building trust with respondents whose responses will be interpreted into reliable data points which then play an important role in shaping workforce policies. These results allow us to better understand changing societal needs and help us improve existing policies or develop new ones. What is important to me is that I appreciate what I do and that I am aware of its importance and its impact on our society. “
All pictures from MOM
Work in Progress is a MOM sponsored series that has officers like Tan who, in his work, help shape better policies for Singapore.