Amidst slow economy and volatility in the market conditions, the childcare sector in Singapore is expected to witness a boom with 4,000 new jobs being created, as the number of childcare places expands to meet parenting needs.
Also measures taken along the years to improve salary and provide better career opportunities are seeing results. While entrants into the sector are required to acquire teaching experience on the job, there are increasingly more opportunities available today for the career-oriented to move into non-teaching roles, which include curriculum development and overseeing of national/overseas operations.
In 2011, the government announced that all childcare centres would require at least 75 percent of their educators to be certified in early childhood education. Furthermore scholarships and training grants have also been introduced for educators to develop their skills, and in 2012 a professional development framework was announced aiming at those taking care of children at nursery level and below.
The Early Childhood and Development Agency (ECDA), was set up in 2013 to oversee the childhood care sector and in 2014, a career pathway framework was introduced to address long-standing complaints on the lack of career progression options in the early childhood education sector.
With an aim to increase the talent pool of childcare professionals from the current 16,000 to 20,000 by 2020, a manpower plan was unveiled by the government in October this year. As per the blueprint of the new skills framework, specific skillsets and competencies are required for job roles in the sector such as educarer, teacher and leadership tracks.
Until now from 2013, 40,000 new childcare places have been added. This has translated into more job openings in the sector. For example, PCF Sparkletots Preschool is looking at recruiting 1,000 more teachers to meet its expansion goals, while NTUC First Campus plans to hire around 800 teachers next year.
This sector is open to both new entrants and mid-career switchers with training provided on the job, TODAY reports. For example, at EltonHouse, there is a four-month induction programme for new teachers where mentorship is provided on how to plan the curriculum.
Apart from an array of courses for teachers to upgrade their skills, there are also Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) for mid-career switchers conducted by the Singapore Polytechnic, the SEED Institute and the KLC International Institute.
According to ECDA, there are only 114 male pre-school teachers in Singapore, making up less than 1 per cent of the total pool of pre-school educators. Centres interviewed by TODAY said they welcome male educators as they serve to be good role models for boys, among other things.
Monthly salaries in the sector typically start at S$1,300 for an assistant teacher, while principals can earn over S$6,000. However, it’s not the pay in itself that attracts talent, but the passion that drew many into the industry.