Budget debate: 4,500 jobs, training opportunities in social service, early childhood sectors and for those with disabilities

Close to 1,000 job opportunities will be in the early childhood sector. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Around 4,500 jobs and skills training opportunities have been carved out or are in the pipeline for Singaporeans in the early childhood and social service sectors, as well as for those with disabilities, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Friday (March 5).

This complements the national drive by the National Jobs Council to create new jobs to help those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Helping individuals bounce back from the pandemic in a manner that builds resilience is among the three key areas where the Ministry of Social and Family Development plans to build a stronger social compact, said Mr Masagos during the debate on his ministry's budget on Friday.

The other two areas are ensuring greater inclusivity and opportunities for all, and enabling the pre-school and social service sectors to emerge stronger.

Of the estimated 4,500 jobs and skills training opportunities, about 1,200 will be with social service agencies, such as SGUnited traineeships, as well as opportunities under the Transformation Support Scheme which co-funds social service agencies to hire skilled manpower in areas such as digitalisation, finance, human resources and fund raising.

Close to 1,000 job opportunities will be in the early childhood sector. These include short-term safe management assistant roles in pre-schools, and longer-term roles for mid-career job seekers to be trained as certified early childhood educators via the Professional Conversion Programme or Place-and-Train Programme for early childhood care and education.

There are also positions such as child enabling executives and home visitors under the rapidly expanding KidStart programme, led by Early Childhood Development Agency, that supports children up to age six from low-income families.

There will also be approximately 1,100 jobs and skills opportunities within the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Council of Social Service, and about 1,200 jobs and skills opportunities for persons with disabilities across various sectors.

Covid-19 Recovery Grant

Apart from creating job opportunities, the ministry is also providing financial aid to those who have lost their jobs, are on involuntary no-pay leave or have suffered income loss due to Covid-19.

Responding to Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) and Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) who had asked for updates on the Covid-19 Recovery Grant, Mr Masagos said that the grant, launched in January, has benefited over 7,500 Singaporeans so far.

The grant provides up to $700 a month for three months and applications end on Dec 31, 2021.

Transforming early childhood and social service sectors

Mr Masagos also spoke on how the ministry is helping the early childhood and social service sectors build resilience to future challenges and emerge stronger in the new normal.

This will be done through digital transformation, building organisational excellence and capability as well as strengthening partnerships with the community.

In particular, for digitalisation, both sectors are developing Industry Digital Plans that will provide structured frameworks to help pre-schools and social service agencies optimise resources and business processes.

"This will improve efficiency, support professionals in their work, and raise the quality of services," said Mr Masagos.

The plan for the early childhood sector will be rolled out later this year, and about $4 million will be set aside over the next three years to encourage pre-schools to adopt digital solutions.

Details on the social service sector's plan will be announced at the National Council of Social Service's Social Service Summit in July.

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