UniSIM to offer master's course for non-profit leaders

It comes amid growing demand for greater management and leadership training in sector

A slew of courses to train leaders in the social service sector will be rolled out this year.

They include a master's programme, the first of its kind here.

This comes amid a growing charity sector as well as greater demand for leadership and management training so that charities are run effectively. The Master of Non-Profit Management (MNPM) programme will be offered by SIM University (UniSIM) from July.

It covers topics such as governance and finance, social policies, social innovation and fund-raising.

Gerontology expert Kalyani Mehta, who heads the MNPM, told The Straits Times: "Non-profit organisations (NPOs) have a special quality that requires a special way of management - the leaders need to balance the sustainability and charity."

Striking this balance is important to run charities effectively, she said, so leadership programmes in the sector have been developed elsewhere - in the United States and Hong Kong, too.

MNPM students can earn a professional certificate if they complete three core courses, or a graduate diploma for completing six.

They need to complete another four electives and a research project to earn the master's qualification.

  • What it should have been

  • The headline of Thursday's report, "UniSIM to offer master's course in social work", was inaccurate. The new master's programme is in non-profit management, and differs from an existing Master of Social Work programme offered by the university.

    We are sorry for the error.

The MNPM programme was developed by UniSIM, in collaboration with the Social Service Institute (SSI), which is the training arm of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It is also among the programmes under the SSI's new Non-Profit Leadership Initiative, which aims to build up the skills of social service leaders at all levels.

This ranges from preparing new leaders in their roles to engaging existing senior leaders with more in-depth programme content. An SSI spokesman said: "The initiative makes it easier for social service organisations to structure career development opportunities... map out leadership training pathways and plan for leadership succession."

While the SSI already offers management courses, the spokesman said that these tend to be shorter, and that the new ones under the initiative will be more comprehensive and last about 60 hours each.

The SSI hopes that the 1,000 training places for the various courses under the initiative will be filled in the next three years.

A talk about the new initiative will be held at the SSI next Tuesday, while a briefing about the MNPM programme will be held at UniSIM on Saturday.

Dr Mehta said the MNPM was started in response to growing interest in leadership training for the non-profit sector - a trend seen in other organisations too.

Sun Ray, NCSS' centralised manpower recruitment scheme for social service leaders, has drawn overwhelming interest (see sidebar).

The Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (CNPL) has seen growth of over 50 per cent in the number of participants for its leadership workshops over the past three years.

The Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) said the first run of its training programme for non-profit directors, which started last year, was oversubscribed.

The class size then was kept at 30, and the SID plans to increase it for the second run.

Dr Mehta said the MNPM programme could appeal to young people, too.

"There are many NPOs started by young people... They could see career prospects in this sector. If they have the leadership training, they'd have the confidence and comprehensive knowledge on how to run NPOs," she said.

Older people making a mid-career switch have found non-profit leadership training beneficial, too.

Mr Malcolm Wong, 44, joined Sun Ray after 15 years in education. He is now deputy director of special projects at the Rainbow Centre, which serves children with special needs.

He said: "It's critical for social service leaders to be continuously exposed to new ideas and best practices. Growing ourselves as leaders is our responsibility to the people we serve."

  • Call UniSIM at 6248-9777 for details of the MNPM briefing; or the SSI at 6589-5555 for details of the Non-Profit Leadership Initiative.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'UniSIM to offer master's course in social work'. Print Edition | Subscribe