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Two pre-school anchor operators to raise wages in bid to retain talent

SINGAPORE — Two of the largest pre-school anchor operators here — which employ a total of 9,300 staff — yesterday announced that they are raising salaries and reviewing career progression opportunities for teachers, as part of efforts to recruit and retain professionals in a sector long plagued by manpower woes.

Two pre-school anchor operators to raise wages in bid to retain talent

The PAP Community Foundation said it revised salaries of qualified teachers and centre
leaders by 6 per cent to 12 per
cent last month.
TODAY FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE — Two of the largest pre-school anchor operators here — which employ a total of 9,300 staff — yesterday announced that they are raising salaries and reviewing career progression opportunities for teachers, as part of efforts to recruit and retain professionals in a sector long plagued by manpower woes.

The PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which runs 357 kindergarten and childcare centres, said it raised salaries by six to 12 per cent for qualified teachers and centre leaders last month and will undertake a year-long review of its compensation and career-progression policies for staff.

Separately, NTUC My First Campus (NFC), which operates 107 My First Skool centres, said it would make a “special adjustment” in additional to its annual increment for its principals, which could mean a raise of up to 16 per cent. For example, a principal with about three to four years of experience in the position and who holds a degree in early childhood education may earn up to S$4,400 after the adjustment.

Both operators said they would not be raising fees despite the additional manpower costs. PCF said it would bear the costs with “some funding support” from the Early Childhood Development Agency, while My First Skool would take on the costs on its own.

According to PCF, the market salary of a diploma-trained childcare teacher with three years of experience can expect to earn up to S$2,800 a month. Centre principals who possess a degree qualification and have three to four years of leadership experience may be earning up to S$4,000.

Last November, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing launched a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Masterplan to provide professional development opportunities for preschool educators. The Government aims to add 17,000 more childcare places by 2017, which would require some 2,000 teachers.

Early childhood professionals are encouraged to undertake at least 20 hours of CPD per year, including two core courses over a period of three years. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) aims to roll out a total of 9,000 training places this year.

From July, the NFC will add the roles of lead teacher and deputy centre lead to its teachers’ career ladder. Lead teachers will play a bigger part in mentoring newer teachers and deputy centre leads will act as a second-in-charge to support principals at large childcare centres and have a reduced teaching load.

A spokesperson also said the NFC has made significant salary adjustments for teachers in recent years — between 2009 and last year, their salaries have gone up 36 per cent.

The PCF said it would first look into reviewing the career progression pathways for its educators, such as formalising different levels with clearly-defined work scopes and responsibilities for each level. For example, a fresh graduate may start as a teacher and progress to a senior, lead or mentor teacher. He or she may also choose to take on a leadership position, starting as a supervisor of a centre and progressing to executive principal overseeing several centres.

“In this way, we can provide our staff more opportunities for professional development and also a more fulfilling career with PCF,” the PCF said.

Two other anchor operators — Metropolitan YMCA, which runs MY World Preschool, and EtonHouse International Education Group, which runs E-bridge Pre-School — also adjusted the salaries of their teachers recently, in April and January, respectively.

Mrs Ng Gim Choo, founder and managing director of EtonHouse International, said increasing compensation and enhancing professional development opportunities for educators would go a long way in addressing manpower needs. “Allowing more foreign teaching staff to come into Singapore until we have adequate local manpower would also help,” she added.

Along with Kinderland’s Skool4Kidz, both Metropolitan YMCA and EtonHouse International said they currently had no plans to raise fees.

Smaller operators that TODAY spoke to said remuneration was not the only way to retain or attract staff. “The salary is, of course, important, but the welfare and working environment must also be a conducive one,” said Ms Alice Ow, branch director of Generation Kidz @ Limau. Most of its eight staff have served in the single-branch centre for three to four years. “Everyone here treats each other and works together as a family, and that’s much more important,” she said.

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