In a tepid labour market, the expanding social service sector shows ray of hope with shrinking labour and cautious employer hiring sentiments. Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin said, “Jobseekers can anticipate 3,000 new job openings in the next two years, in a sector that currently employs 13,000 workers.”
The job vacancies coming up are not just for social service workers, who currently account for only 7 percent of the workforce. Tan emphasized that for the sector to attract more professionals, it should steer clear of the misconceptions associated with jobs in a social service sector, comprising of mainly volunteers, or only those with a social work degree should apply, which is far from reality.
Speaking at the official opening of the Social Service Institute’s new premises at Central Plaza in Tiong Bahru, Mr. Tan laid out manpower projections for this growing sector. He said, that besides psychologists, counselors and occupational and speech therapists, the sector also needs to fill corporate roles – such as accountants, marketers, fund-raisers and IT support managers. The institute shifted its premises from the previously located at Somerset, which is the main training institute to Central Plaza.
With increasing ageing population, more support and disability services will be needed, as care is often outsourced with rise in singlehood and divorce rates, Straits Times reports. Most leave the sector mid-way, complaining of low pay and lack of career progression opportunities.
However this year, the recommended salary increase for those working in the social services sector is only 3.5 percent. This figure is benchmarked against similar increases in the market, according to compensation experts the National Council of Social Service (NCSS)
See: Singapore Sees Talent Demand for Employees in the Social Services Sector
Also the starting pay for social service professionals has gone up over the years. Further, clarity is made available to workers to set realistic expectations from the market trends, such that workers know what skillsets are needed to expect a certain pay raise, and the positions they are interested inn that could turn out to be long-term career.
Meanwhile, 571 people applied for 40 openings in the Professional Conversion Programme for social workers this year. The scheme trains mid-career hires. Separately, 347 students have applied for 54 social service scholarships and awards last year.
NCSS deputy chief executive Fermin Diez said, charities will remain selective about the type of talent they choose deemed fit with an aptitude to serve communities in the “helping profession”. Such as for example, Charities generally look for those who have passion, integrity, compassion and resilience.
While no hiring tool has been capable in measuring these values adequately. Also NCSS has worked with two additional university professors to develop a psychometric tool specific for the sector to help charities attract the right staff. This sector welcomes those who want to see change and who believe in being agents of change, governed by true sense of purpose.
Feature image credit: ncss.gov.sg
Also read: Firms should be more involved in social work: Tan Chuan-Jin