More switching to jobs in gerontology

Mr Michael Lim now has a master's 
Mr Michael Lim now has a master's 

Agency, universities may take in more due to stronger interest in the study of aspects associated with ageing

Four months ago, Mr Michael Lim went from managing logistics networks to managing a nursing home - a gradual decision he said was borne out of introspection and a passion for social issues.

"I reached a season of life in which you realise there could be more out there. So I took a gap year to go to school," he said.

After pursuing a master's degree in gerontology, Mr Lim, 53, left his job of 20 years to become the chief operating officer at Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens.

Such mid-career switches are becoming more common, as the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) recruits more mid-level professionals like Mr Lim on its Senior Management Associate Scheme (SMAS), which was introduced last year against the backdrop of a manpower crunch in the growing community care sector.

About half of the expected 30,000 healthcare jobs needed by 2020 are expected to be filled by professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

SMAS participants go through an induction and training programme that supports their transition into the sector.

In February, AIC recruited 27 people from over 700 applications - up from just seven last year. It started another round of recruitments last Friday due to the strong interest.

Interest in the industry is also growing, schools offering gerontology programmes noted.

The Singapore University of Social Sciences has seen a 2½ times rise in enrolment in its gerontology diploma and masters programmes since they were launched, said Professor Kalyani Mehta, who heads the programme.

Nanyang Technological University, which launched its applied gerontology masters programme this year, saw 70 applications for 25 places.

Associate Professor Xiao Hong, the programme director, told The New Paper: "... The high demand indicates strong interest in this field of study. We expect continued interest in the programme, and if demand continues to be encouraging, we will look into the possibility of opening up more places."

These mid-level professionals will help to "professionalise" the sector, said Ms Teo Sio Hoon, AIC's chief of intermediate and long-term care manpower development and resourcing division.

She told TNP: "For those who are retrenched or left their jobs, it's not the end of their career. It is an opportunistic time - we are a sector that is growing. That could be part of the reason people are joining."

This article was first published in The New Paper on August 17, 2017.