If you have a keen interest in working in early childhood care and education (ECCE), Government plans and recent changes in the industry itself are on your side.
More ECCE jobs are being created, and better training, conversion and development options are being made available, so you will not only have a greater chance of making the career change you desire, but will also have the support needed to hone your professional skills.
More options, more jobs
What is generating strong demand for pre-school teachers is the 2008 Government announcement that 200 new childcare centres would be built within five years. At the same time, operators of kindergartens and childcare centres have been working towards better student-teacher ratios to further improve the quality of the early childhood education they offer.
Industry estimates are that 2,500 new positions for centre supervisors, principals, pre-school teachers, assistant teachers and infant care edu-carers have been and will be created during the stated five-year span.
If you are among the individuals drawn by the job opportunities created by these developments, you could benefit from the Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA’s) Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs), which are designed to facilitate the movement of workers from other sectors to the ECCE sector.
Employers will also be able to reach out to you more effectively thanks to employment facilitation services provided by WDA’s partners such as the Community Development Councils, NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, and training providers like SEED Institute and Singapore Polytechnic.
Becoming more professional
In recent years, more parents have become aware of the importance of proper educational, mental, physical, psychological and social guidance for their children beginning from their earliest years, and have begun to expect more from early childhood educators.
Recognising this, the early childhood industry and the Government have been working towards raising the professionalism and quality of ECCE teachers, so that every child in Singapore can have a good-quality, holistic early childhood experience as a firm foundation for his or her later years.
To be an ECCE educator, you must now have at least five O-level credits (including a B4 for English Language), and a diploma in early childhood and care education. Reflecting the better qualifications expected are salaries in the sector, which have been increasing over the past few years. If you have a teaching diploma, you can expect an average monthly pay of $1,668 (up from the previous average of $1,230); principals and centre supervisors can earn up to $2,700 monthly; and if you have a university degree, you could earn up to $4,000.
You won’t be left to your own devices once you have the relevant qualifications either. Various professional development opportunities are also available to ECCE teachers so that they can keep on learning throughout their careers. Conferences, workshops and forums organised by the Ministry of Education and the Education Services Union help ECCE teachers network, learn from one another, and develop their professional skills and knowledge.
If you wish become an ECCE educator, you may do so through training, conversion and upgrading programmes. By successfully completing a WDA PCP, you will qualify to teach in childcare centres and kindergartens. Currently, more than 380 trainees are undergoing the PCPs.
The WDA offers two of its PCPs through SEED Institute, which is the Continuing Education and Training Centre for the ECCE sector, and which aims to raise the sector’s professional standards. When you sign up for these courses, you may enjoy Government funding of 90 per cent of the course fees.
You could also take a PCP with Singapore Polytechnic, with Government funding of up to 90 per cent of the fees.
If you are already in the industry, but wish to upgrade your qualifications and skills, the Ministry of Education and Singapore Government offer short modular courses and workshops, and scholarships for diploma and degree programmes to help existing ECCE professionals deepen their skill sets, contribute at higher levels, and take the industry to higher ground.