Social service staffs in Singapore can expect to receive another pay rise soon, said the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) on its website post on Mar 29.
The pay increase for workers in the sector was first announced during the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) budget debate in March. From April 1 this year, the ministry is raising the salary guidelines for employees working in MSF-funded programmes by up to 12 percent from its last financial year.
According to the new pay guidelines posted on the NCSS web page, the starting salary for fresh graduate social worker is now $3,400 a month, increasing 4 percent from $3,270. Included in this category are those graduates with a degree in social work from the Singapore University of Social Sciences or a Bachelor of Social Sciences with a major in social work from the National University of Singapore.
As for a therapist with a degree in physiotherapy or speech and language therapy, now they will receive a starting pay of $3,550, up 6 percent from $3,350 previously. Meanwhile, university graduates work as special education teachers for children with disabilities can now command a starting pay of $3,620, up from $3,570. These teachers also hold a diploma in special education from the National Institute of Education (NIE), Straits Times reports.
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While the MSF and NCSS are reviewing salary guidelines every three years to ensure that wages remain competitive, the salary advices are also adjusted in between reviews to reflect wage movements in the general labour market. Among the roles covered by the latest pay guidelines include social workers, therapists, and executives from all levels of seniority.
Social service organisations funded by the MSF, instead of the ministry itself, are the one who hire these social workers, such as family service centres and children’s homes. Therefore, it is not compulsory for organisations to adhere to the pay guidelines.
The social service staff welcomed the salary increments, considering this as a recognition of their work and a reflection of the growing demand for their services. So far, 15,000 Singaporeans are working in the sector at the end of last year, and 1,000 more are expected to join by next year.
According to the Ministry of Education website, the starting pay of teachers with a post-graduate diploma in education from the NIE is between $3,100 and $3,500 a month. Based on the joint graduate employment survey released in February, the median monthly salary was $3,400 last year for graduates of three universities across a broad range of disciplines, from business and engineering to law.
However, it remains a challenge for charities to raise more donations in order to meet the salary increases, given not all their programmes are funded by the MSF, said Ms Adelyn Poh, co-founder of the Children-at-Risk Empowerment Association (Care) Singapore. Not to mention, they cannot raise only the salaries of staff working in MSF-funded programmes and not others. But organisations in the sector say donors are rarely keen to donate to fund salary increases.
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