Pilot programme launched to assess maids' household skills

Executive director of the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE), Shamsul Kamar Mohamed Razali (in red) and chairman of the CDE, Yeo Guat Kwang, (in a jacket) posing for a group picture with representatives of the CDE's partner organisations.
Executive director of the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE), Shamsul Kamar Mohamed Razali (in red) and chairman of the CDE, Yeo Guat Kwang, (in a jacket) posing for a group picture with representatives of the CDE's partner organisations. PHOTO: CENTRE FOR DOMESTIC EMPLOYEES

SINGAPORE - A programme to assess and certify a foreign domestic worker's household skills is being piloted by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE), in a bid to address the different work expectations between workers and employers.

The organisation, which looks after the needs of domestic workers here, had found in a 2017 survey that many employers felt their workers were not adequately trained, despite the workers' claims to have undergone training.

Such a significant mismatch in expectations often leads to disharmony, the CDE's executive director Shamsul Kamar Mohamed Razali said during the organisation's third anniversary celebrations on Monday (Jan 28), at NTUC Centre.

"It's actually a perception mismatch, every home is different - you may be a bit more lenient, but I may not, you might have standards that are higher and so on and so forth," said Mr Shamsul, citing the organisation's survey, which found that only about half (54 per cent) of the 1,004 employers surveyed felt their workers were adequately trained.

In contrast, nearly all of the 1,012 workers surveyed claimed to have undergone training.

"Our larger picture is to assure Singaporean employers that those with (the certification) have got the skill-sets, and you know that they are quality (workers)," said Mr Shamsul, adding that they are currently working with employment agencies to assess newly recruited domestic workers.

The programme - called the Assessment-Only-Pathway (AOP) skills certification framework - could also encourage employment agents to step up their training, added Mr Shamsul.

It was developed by the organisation together with NTUC LearningHub.

Since October last year, about 30 workers have undergone the assessment, which tests their abilities in household chores such as cleaning, ironing and cooking. The assessment cost of $50 is charged to the workers themselves and they receive a certificate on completion.

The programme has been welcomed by employers such as Madam Esther Chan.

The 72-year-old retired administrative assistant said she has had to coach many of the maids she has hired, and added: "Its definitely better to have this assessment, someone must step in to check them."

More maids have also been approaching the organisation for assistance, Mr Shamsul revealed.

Last year, the organisation handled a total of 1,358 cases, of which about half involved domestic employees who needed advice on employment issues or who needed intervention from the authorities.

It also sheltered 373 workers in distress last year, more than twice the amount than in 2017 .

This increase comes as more workers become aware of the organisation's existence and the help that it offers, Mr Shamsul pointed out.