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Opening Address By Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister Of State For Manpower & Mayor, North East Cdc At The Early Childhood Care And Education Leadership And Hr Conference At Lifelong Learning Institute

Good Afternoon,

Dr Chandroo, Chairman, ASSETS

Mr Robert Leong, Vice Chairman, ASSETS.

Ms Therese Tan, Committee Member, AECES

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am happy to join you at this conference that is jointly organised by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Association of Early Childhood & Training Services (ASSETS).  

Good Careers in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector  

1.        The government is increasing the number of childcare places to meet rising demand from childcare services from parents as more mothers return to the workforce.  To meet the capacity expansion, another 4,000 early childhood professionals such as centre leaders, preschool teachers, toddler educarers and infant care educarers are required until 2020.  

2.        The Early Childhood Care and Education or ECCE sector is a good sector that offers good jobs to Singaporeans with national-certified training recognised by the sector.   The jobs also come with good career progression opportunities.  Preschool teachers can progress in their career to senior teachers and then lead teachers while they mentor new teachers who have just joined. Those with leadership potential can be groomed to take on centre leadership roles where they will manage one or more childcare centres.   These opportunities are available to different segments of the workforce, ranging from new entrants to mature workers who meet the minimum requirements for the different job roles.

3.        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.     

Sector is open to mature individuals

4.        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 EC 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.

ECCE’s SkillsFuture Career Advisors Programme to enhance job-matching

5.        Whilst there are job opportunities aplenty in the ECCE sector, we also recognise that manpower attrition is one of the challenges.  Today, I am pleased to announce the SkillsFuture Career Advisors Programme developed by WSG and AECES.  It is an initiative to ensure a better match of jobseekers’ career aspirations and expectations with the job requirements and employers’ expectations. 

6.        Those who are wondering about their career options in the early childhood 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 advise individuals keen to join the sector.   They will share their experiences on how it is like working in childcare centres as well as the prerequisites and expectations required of those who would like to join this sector. This initiative is a partnership between AECES and Workforce Singapore. It has attracted 24 career advisors and we hope to benefit 400 individuals this year.

 7.        The first career advisory event is already happening at the event hall on the ground floor of this building as I speak.  Organised by WSG, this is an event where job seekers can approach the career advisors for industry and career advice.  Concurrently, there is a networking session with five employers who are offering over 110 positions in preschool teachers and educarers.    If they find a match, the 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. 

Progressive HR and Leadership Practices to nurture ECCE talent

8.        While the preschools are recruiting aggressively to meet expanding capacity, they also need to retain their trained employees and build on their HR and leadership practices.   With this in mind, WSG has developed a Progressive HR Practices Early Adopter Programme for the ECCE sector, following in-depth consultation with ASSETS, early childhood operators and ASSETS.  The programme targets to help 100 early childhood operators enhance their HR and leadership capabilities as a competitive tool to attract and retain talent.  To date, 22 have already come on board the programme.   The programme complements the Professional Conversion Programmes and Place and Train programmes in building a sustainable pipeline of local talent for the early childhood sector.

9.        Besides this programme, Lean Enterprise Development 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 so as to offer quality careers for Singaporeans.

Conclusion

10.        Children’s formative years are very important ones for nurturing and development, and the efforts to shape the foundation of this are also critical.  I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is to have the right talent in this sector.  I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you who are already working or employing in the sector.

11.        I want to greatly encourage those of you considering careers in this fulfilling sector, to make use of our Adapt and Grow programmes which include what’s being launched today to help you in your journey.  I would also like to urge EC employers to consider tapping on the various Transform and Grow programmes being made available to help you build up your manpower and adopt more progressive HR practices so that you can attract the best talent and retain them.

12.        I wish you a very successful event today.   

Thank you.