Scheme aims to groom at least 200 social service leaders in next five years

Queenstown's social service office. At least 200 social service leaders will be groomed over the next five years, under a centralised hiring system that started in October. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Queenstown's social service office. At least 200 social service leaders will be groomed over the next five years, under a centralised hiring system that started in October. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - At least 200 social service leaders will be groomed over the next five years, under a centralised hiring system that started in October.

These leaders will be rotated to another agency after two to five years, with their salaries, training and career development overseen and determined by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

These details were released on Thursday by the council at the launch of the scheme called Sun Ray, at the Social Service Institute, the council's training arm.

In a speech at the event, Minister for Family and Social Development Chan Chun Sing said he had waited for the launch of the scheme since he first took office three years ago. "It is a significant development in the social service sector. People development lies at the heart of our challenges," he said.

He first spoke about plans to have this hiring system to help develop and deploy social service leaders across various Voluntary Welfare Organisations during the Budget debates in Parliament earlier this year.

The aim is to groom future leaders in a sector plagued with staff quitting because of low pay and the lack of a structured career pathway.

Social issues are also becoming more complex so there is a need for leaders to be rotated to gain exposure to various areas of social work, instead of spending years in a single agency, said NCSS, which runs the scheme.

Mr Chan assured the audience, made up of mostly social service practitioners, that they will not lose autonomy over their organisations despite the central recruitment and deployment of their leaders.

"We have no plans to nationalise social service employment. There is no such need and it is not healthy either. Many Voluntary Welfare Organisations can and should continue to directly employ their staff."