Singapore Budget 2014: New central pool of leaders for VWOs to draw from

Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) will in future be able to draw their leaders from a central pool of social service professionals set up by the Government.

By the end of the year, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) will start a unit to recruit, groom and deploy some 200 to 300 social service leaders to different agencies, said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Thursday.

These leaders, made up of social workers, therapists, psychologists, early intervention teachers and counsellors, will be rotated to other organisations after a stint.

This allows them to try their hand in different sectors such as working with the elderly, special needs children or at-risk youth.

"Their exposure to the different VWOs and agencies will not only accelerate the sharing of ideas but more importantly, in the next 10 to 15 years to come, we can groom new leaders who not only have depth in their respective areas of knowledge but the breadth in exposure to lead the sector," he said.

The aim, he added, is to allow leaders to develop breadth of experience instead of simply being confined to one's area of expertise.

Currently, some leaders can spend decades working in the same agency or concentrating on just one area of social work.

The resulting high turnover rate may affect leadership succession and quality of services provided, he added.

This model of employment is similar to that of the Ministry of Education (MOE), where teachers are hired by the MOE but are deployed to different special education and independent schools.

Besides having a pool of leaders to tap on, Mr Chan also announced plans to support other professionals beyond social workers.

Presently, the Social Service Talent Development Scheme run by NCSS only looks into the training of social workers. In future, development opportunities will be opened up to all social service professionals.

These people may be allied health or teaching staff in the sector, such as therapists and early intervention teachers.

This means that there will be more uniformity across the sector when it comes to short- term schemes involving post-graduate studies or sabbatical leave, or longer-term ones to do with career pathways and training. More details will be given later.