Rolling out initiatives to build a vibrant social service sector

We thank Mr Lim Khoon Min ("Challenges of working in the charity sector", Jan 9) and Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock ("Ways charities can tackle funding squeeze", Jan 12) for their feedback.

Voluntary welfare organisations (VWO) are working to align their salary scales to the National Council of Social Service's (NCSS) guidelines announced in April last year, which is an encouraging step forward.

While salary is one of the ways to attract and retain capable people in the sector, we also recognise it is not the sole driver. A vibrant social service sector is a sum of many parts, including having the right people on the ground and dynamic leaders guiding the organisations to grow more sustainably.

NCSS is actively rolling out initiatives to build the sector's capabilities. VWOs and other non-profit organisations (NPO) in the sector can tap various types of support available to build organisational development, leadership, manpower and skills.

For example, the Social Service Institute (SSI), the human capital development arm of NCSS, has developed structured career and training pathways for sector professionals. It holds over 200 courses annually, some of which are subsidised through the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund (VCF).

The VCF supports initiatives to build professional and organisational capabilities, as well as pursue innovation and productivity efforts.

VWO and NPO board members can also benefit from specialised programmes offered at SSI, which have attracted more than 200 board directors since these programmes started in October last year.

In complementing efforts to build quality manpower, the Sun Ray scheme was launched in November 2014 to develop a pool of individuals who are groomed for leadership roles in the social service sector.

We are encouraged by the strong interest from potential candidates and will continue to recruit, retain, develop and deploy suitable sector professionals and new entrants to serve the vulnerable populations in our community.

NCSS also works closely with other bodies, including the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, to support VWOs and NPOs in other areas, including attracting more volunteers to complement the roles of full-time professionals and staff.

We welcome ideas on how we can work with VWOs and NPOs to bolster their capability to serve the people in our community.

Sim Gim Guan

Chief Executive Officer

National Council of Social Service

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Rolling out initiatives to build a vibrant social service sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe