Pre-school professionals at two of Singapore's largest operators will enjoy better pay and career progression.
NTUC First Campus and PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which together employ about a third of the 13,000 pre-school educators in Singapore, said yesterday they will raise salaries and roll out new career tracks for their staff.
The announcements come amid a government bid to attract and retain teachers in the face of a manpower crunch and a need to hire 2,000 more educators by 2017 to staff new centres.
NTUC First Campus, which runs My First Skool, the biggest childcare chain, will make a special salary adjustment for nearly 100 principals. With a regular annual increment, they will receive a pay increase averaging 9 per cent and as high as 16 per cent this year. So, a principal with three to four years of experience can earn about $4,400.
Its chief human resource officer, Ms Geraldine Lee, said its teachers' pay has gone up by about 36 per cent from 2009 to now. A teacher in My First Skool with a diploma in early childhood education and three years of experience can now earn about $2,300 a month, more than the $1,800 median basic monthly salary for pre-school teachers in 2012.
Said NTUC First Campus chief executive Chan Tee Seng: "Early childhood professionals hold great responsibilities in nurturing our young... They should be better recognised."
Meanwhile, PCF, the biggest kindergarten operator, has raised the pay of its teachers and principals by 6 to 12 per cent following a review last month. PCF also runs childcare centres. In addition, PCF will have "more differentiated levels" to clearly define job scopes and responsibilities at each level. The review will be done by early next year.
Besides adjusting pay, NTUC First Campus is introducing two positions for teachers. They can aim to become lead teachers, who mentor newer colleagues. Or they may be promoted further to deputy centre leads, who take on a smaller teaching load but a greater leadership role.
As anchor operators appointed by the Government, My First Skool and PCF are required to retain at least 85 per cent of their educators by 2018.
A spokesman for the Early Childhood Development Agency, which oversees pre-schools, welcomed "such industry-led efforts", which are in line with its work to "raise the professionalism of early childhood educators".
EtonHouse International managing director Ng Gim Choo and Metropolitan YMCA deputy general manager Shirley Wong said the better pay will help attract and retain talent, helping the whole sector.
Ms Chan Yin Jie, 27, a principal at an NTUC First Campus pre-school, was happy with the raise. "It's a form of recognition of our efforts. We'll also feel more motivated to stay on in the sector."