Women with special needs get training to work in childcare sector

President Halimah Yacob speaking to a trainee from the Presbyterian Community Services' EduCarer Aide Training programme during a visit to the Providence Care Centre in Jurong East last Friday.
President Halimah Yacob speaking to a trainee from the Presbyterian Community Services' EduCarer Aide Training programme during a visit to the Providence Care Centre in Jurong East last Friday. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

In 2011, as a 19-year-old freshman pursuing a marketing degree at the Singapore Institute of Management, Ms Gloria Lim was looking forward to four years of university.

But she went into a coma after collapsing at her church.

Despite a slim chance of survival, Ms Lim defied the odds to wake up 10 days later in what felt like "day zero". Unable to recognise even her parents, she required extensive therapy for basic tasks. Her gradual recovery took years.

Now 28, she is determined to adapt to her new life and find full-time work.

Ms Lim was one of 11 trainees from social service agency Presbyterian Community Services' EduCarer Aide Training (ECAT) programme who met President Halimah Yacob at the Providence Care Centre in Jurong East last Friday.

Started in February, the programme is a full-time course for women with special needs, such as mild intellectual disability, who are keen to work in the early childhood sector.

Trainees attend classroom lessons as well as simulated training at childcare centres to learn the skills and knowledge to work in a childcare setting.

There are 13 trainees in the programme, which ends in December.

During her community visit, Madam Halimah said programmes such as ECAT could empower people with disabilities (PWDs).

"The ECAT programme is an excellent example of how our social service agencies can work with partners in a specific sector to empower PWDs by providing them with structured training and direct employment pathways," she said.

"This is a win-win arrangement, as the PWDs are given the opportunity to work for organisations in the early childhood sector that are in need of manpower."

Ms Lim is looking forward to a full-time job that involves interacting with young children when she completes the programme.

She said: "I am able to understand how a child feels because of my experience. This industry suits me because I can help the children and also help myself improve at the same time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2020, with the headline 'Women with special needs get training to work in childcare sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe