More on-the-job coaching for infant-care trainees

More on-the-job coaching for infant-care trainees
Students at My First Skool at Boon Lay Drive on Jan 3, 2017. The school is a selected pre-school under the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)’s KidSTART Enhanced Support to Pre-school component. TODAY file photo
Published: 7:20 PM, March 8, 2017
Updated: 9:35 PM, March 8, 2017

SINGAPORE — To woo entrants into the infant-care sector, including more mature women, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will pilot a new training programme where more time will be spent on structured on-the-job training and coaching by experienced mentors.

This programme will see aspiring infant educarers spend a larger portion of their time on-the-job, unlike the existing approach where a much of the training is delivered within a classroom. 

It will be similar to an apprenticeship, where trainees — also known as allied infant educarers — assist certified infant edu-carers to conduct activities under supervision for children aged two to 18 months.. The programme also allows the more experienced infant educarers to take on coaching and mentoring roles.  

Training for the first batch of allied infant educarers will begin later this month.

The Government announced plans during the Budget last month to increase the capacity of centre-based infant care to more than 8,000 places by 2020. On Wednesday (March 8), in announcing this pilot programme in Parliament during the debate on the budget for the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that about 1,000 more infant carers must be recruited to support these expansion plans. 

Allied infant educarers would be recruited based on aptitude and competency, rather than academic qualifications, Dr Faishal said. “We understand that some people with interest, aptitude and competence to care for infants may be unable to join the sector, either because they do not want to attend classroom-based training, or they lack the appropriate academic records,” he explained.

Individuals who are hired by one of the 30 participating operators, and are at least 21 years old, can apply to be trained under this pilot. They will be assessed  through interviews and written tests.

Responding to Members of Parliament who highlighted the need to ensure that early childhood services maintain their quality  in the course of the expansion, Dr Faishal said that the Professional Development Programme for educarers would be launched this month.

Similar to an earlier programme for pre-school teachers, educarers will undergo structured training over three years to deepen their skills and prepare them for larger job roles as team leaders and mentors to newer colleagues, for example. 

These educarers will receive cash awards ranging from S$3,000 to S$5,000 at the end of each professional development milestone.

A new Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching and Learning will also be launched to equip pre-school teachers to take on larger roles as lead teachers and curriculum specialists, among others. Singaporeans embarking on this programme can be supported by the SkillsFuture Study Award worth S$5,000, if they have had at least three years of work experience in the early childhood sector and was not a previous recipient of the award.