A bigger carrot is being dangled to draw more people to make a mid-career switch to nursing.
The enhanced incentives will come in the form of higher allowances for selected candidates, to help cover their costs of living as they train full-time to become nurses and allied health-care professionals.
Announcing the latest move yesterday, Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health and Manpower, said from next year, the new monthly payouts will be 50 per cent to 70 per cent more than current rates.
The payouts, she added, will depend on the number of years the trainee has worked full-time before making the switch. At least two years of full-time working experience is needed to qualify.
Those training to become registered nurses and allied health trainees will get between $1,500 and $1,700 each month, up from $1,000. Enrolled nurse trainees will get between $1,100 and $1,300 monthly, up from $750.
Shortlisted candidates next year can also be attached to a health-care institution to find out more about the job, to help them make a more informed decision on joining the health-care industry.
"We understand that making a career switch to the health-care sector is a major commitment for most mid-career professionals," said Dr Khor, who was speaking at a health-care services exhibition at Nanyang Polytechnic yesterday. "We hope that with the enhancements, more dedicated and passionate mid-career professionals will consider joining the health-care sector to make an impact on the lives of our patients."
The allied health profession includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers. All course fees for the two-year nursing programmes and three-year allied health programme are paid for by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and the health-care institutions which employ the trainees after graduation. To date, 760 nurses and 60 allied health workers have graduated from the programmes, which started in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
The WDA has set a target of enrolling 60 trainees for the next intake in April next year.
The Government aims to add 3,700 hospital beds and 20,000 health-care workers by 2020, the majority in nursing and allied health under the Health Care 2020 Masterplan, unveiled in Parliament in March, when it also said salaries will be raised to attract and retain talent.
Most at the exhibition yesterday, like Mr Steve Loke, 36, who was previously working in IT, welcomed the move to raise the training allowance. The sports-science degree holder, who is training to be a physiotherapist, agreed that money is not the key motivator behind the switch to health care.
He said: "It involves some sacrifice but it's worth it as it means working in a job of my interest."