Social service sector to get centralised recruitment scheme
Individuals on the scheme will get a more varied job scope, and better career development and progression, which Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing say will help retain talent in the sector.
SINGAPORE: A centralised manpower recruitment scheme called Sun Ray has been launched for the social service sector.
The scheme, a first for the sector, will be administered by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). The council will recruit, develop and deploy social service professionals to take on leadership positions across Voluntary Welfare Organisations in Singapore.
The idea for the scheme was announced by Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing during the Budget debate earlier this year. The aim is to address the shortage of qualified professionals in the sector, as well as help VWOs that are struggling to attract and retain talent.
Those on the scheme will get a more varied job scope, and better career development and progression, NCSS said, adding that it will also plan and manage career pathways for those on the scheme.
Individuals will be rotated across different social service organisations and relevant government agencies to gain exposure and experience. Each posting will last two to five years, with those holding more senior positions having a longer stay to make better “structural contributions”.
Those on the scheme will also take on inter-agency sectoral projects aimed at broadening their macro perspectives and enriching their portfolio. They will also get sufficient career progression and development opportunities, so that they can get a “good grip” on where they will be heading professionally, NCSS said.
They will also undergo a suite of training programmes, designed by the Social Service Institute, in areas such as leadership skills and social governance.
FLEXIBLE CAREER TRACKS
According to NCSS, the scheme will have two career tracks with multiple points of entry to bring in individuals with different levels of experience and competency – an organisational leadership track and a professional leadership track.
Those who aspire to head social service organisations will be put on the organisational leadership track, and they will be groomed to eventually occupy senior-level positions such as executive directors or centre managers. Those who wish to take on leadership roles in specialised areas such as social work, therapy or early childhood intervention will be put on the professional leadership track.
“For even more flexibility, Sun Ray has built in porosity between the two tracks to facilitate lateral movements, catering to those who might want to switch track in the course of their career,” NCSS said.
Mr Fermin Diez, Deputy CEO and Group Director of Human Capital Development at NCSS, said the council hoped to attract former social service professionals to return to the industry – especially those who left because of the lack of a structured career pathway.
“By offering a well-articulated career progression pathway, Sun Ray addresses these concerns and at the same time, offers them better career prospects than before. We are also hopeful that Sun Ray would encourage these professionals to stay on in the sector,” he said.
NO PLANS TO NATIONALISE EMPLOYMENT IN SECTOR
Addressing concerns over the scheme, Mr Chan said the initiative is not meant to cannibalise the existing talent pool, but to keep them in the sector.
“People will ask: ‘Will I lose my good people to the rest of the sector?’ I think in time to come, we will see the power of this idea. The idea is very simple – what goes around, comes around,” said the minister.
“Even if we have to redeploy a good person out of a particular VWO, we are doing it for the individual and the sector. We would rather give our people the opportunities to develop within the sector, than to lose them.”
He added that there are no plans to nationalise all social service employment, nor is there a need to.
“We do not need to do that, and I do not think it is healthy as well. I think many VWOs can and should continue to directly employ staff. The aim of the Sun Ray scheme is to build a core of leaders in both the Professional and Leadership tracks. Not everyone may find this suitable for them. They will have other career opportunities,” Mr Chan said.
Fourteen social service organisations are now on the Sun Ray scheme, and there are currently 13 individuals on it. One of them is Vasu Govindasam, who explained why he decided to join the scheme: “At that point, there were other opportunities provided by other sectors, like the health and medical sectors, which met my career need. Now the opportunity is given to me again to serve in the social service sector with a new burst of life.”
NCSS said it aims to hire and place at least 200 people on the programme by 2019.
Montfort Care, a network of agencies serving the community, is one of those who have come on board. Its CEO Samuel Ng said: “I hope that Sun Ray can transform the social sector from one that faces a talent drought, to one that attracts talent by the droves.”
For more information on Sun Ray, call 6589 5500, email Sun_Ray@ncss.gov.sg or visit www.ncss.org.sg/SunRay.
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