As government boosts its efforts to encourage more mothers to enter back into the workforce, Singapore is seeing an increasing demand for childcare services, especially to ensure that need for professional childcare is not compromised by mothers, who choose to continue working.
“By 2020, Singapore is expected to see demand for at least 4,000 childhood care professionals to work as centre leaders, preschool teachers, toddler educarers and infant care educarers,” says Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower at Early childhood care and education leadership and HR conference, jointly organised by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Association of Early Childhood & Training Services (ASSETS).
The Early Childhood Care and Education or ECCE sector offers good job prospects for Singaporeans, who possess national-certified training recognized by the sector. The jobs in childhood care also come with good career progression opportunities – with preschool teachers can progress to become senior teachers, and then lead teachers as they mentor new teaching professionals who join the institution.
Those with leadership potential can be groomed to take on centre leadership roles, where they will manage one or more childcare centers. These opportunities are available to different segments of the workforce, ranging from new entrants to mature workers, who meet minimum requirements for different job roles.
Mr. Luck further added, “Singaporeans interested to join the ECCE sector can attend diploma or advanced certificate courses to attain the necessary qualifications in order to join the sector as preschool teachers or educarers. The course fees are partially subsidised by WSG.”
“They can also tap on Adapt and Grow programmes such as Professional Conversion Programmes or Place and Train programmes to join the preschools as trainee teachers and earn a salary while they undergo classroom and on-the-job training. WSG will co-sponsor the training and salary with the employers, during training.”
The ECCE sector also welcomes mature individuals as they bring with them life experiences, people and communication skills. A good example is Yvonne Lau, 49, who used to work in the financial industry, and run a family business. Last year, she decided to join the Early Childhood care sector and this decision was largely driven by her own experience, where she personally took two years off from work to spend time with her sons when they were five and two.
Under her care, her children became more self-confident as they learnt to vocalise and interact better. This is why she believes in early childhood education. It was Yvonne’s strong passion for working with children and her wish to positively impact children in their growing years that got her successfully matched with an employer in the EC sector.
Through this successful match, Yvonne attended the Professional Conversion Programme for Preschool Teachers in 2016. She will be graduating soon and will be a teacher in the preschool which sponsored her professional diploma training.
Whilst there are plentiful of untapped opportunities for career progression provided by the ECCE sector, one the critical challenges faced by employers here is manpower attrition. To overcome this challenging situation, Mr. Luck announced a new initiative to ensure a better match of jobseekers’ career aspirations and expectations with the job requirements and employers’ expectations – the SkillsFuture Career Advisors Programme developed by WSG and AECES.
Those in dilemma about making career choices in the ECCE sector can seek advice from SkillsFuture Career Advisors at the Association for Early Childhood Educators (Singapore) or AECES. The SkillsFuture Career Advisors comprise teachers, principals and early childhood professionals, who have volunteered their time to advice individuals keen to join the sector.
They will share their experiences on how it is like working in childcare centers, as well as the prerequisites and expectations required of those who would like to join this sector. The initiative hopes to benefit 400 individuals this year, with 24 career advice professionals onboard.
On finding talents that best match their requirements, employers can then tap on the Adapt and Grow initiatives such as Professional Conversion Programmes for Preschool Teachers, Place and Train programmes for educarers, as well as Reskilling for Jobs-Work Trial to recruit and train job seekers for the EC sector. As preschool recruit aggressively to meet their expanding capacities, it would also need to retain their key talents by building upon their HR and leadership practices.
Bearing this on mind, WSG has developed a Progressive HR Practices Early Adopter Programme for the ECCE sector, following in-depth consultation with ASSETS and early childhood operators. This programme is targeted to help 100 early childhood operators enhance their HR and leadership capabilities as a competitive tool to attract and retain talent. Till date, 22 early childhood care operators have already come on board the programme.
This programme complements the Professional Conversion Programme, and Place and Train programmes in building a sustainable pipeline of local talent for the early childhood sector. Besides this programme, Lean Enterprise Development (LED) initiatives such as centralised meal catering and Smart IT solutions are also examples of Transform and Grow initiatives for the early childhood sector to enhance the workplace environment, and culture such as to offer quality careers for Singaporeans.