TL;DR – PM Lee tells you which job to get.
These few years, we have heard a lot about people losing jobs to technology. We’ve also heard of how people are losing jobs because their sector has become a sunset industry, or because the economy isn’t booming as before. As a result, a good number of people in their middle age are having to look to move into a different industry.
But those people need to think hard about what industry to move into. After all, you don’t want to move out from one sunset industry to another, finding yourself in a similar situation where your job is gone due to technological disruptions or recessions. So which is a good industry that is recession-proof and disruption-proof, and has good career progression?
PM Lee, during his National Day Rally speech, told us what one such industry is – the Early Childhood Development industry. A career as a pre-school teacher, according to him, is recession-proof and disruption proof.
How to get into the industry?
For a start, get trained. The government will set up the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC). The NIEC will be like NIE, but for preschool teachers and carers.
“It will provide the full range of diploma and certificate programmes for preschool professionals. It will also have the scale to develop curricula, with different specialisations, e.g. music, art, mother tongue and special education. Within a larger fraternity, the faculty will have more opportunities for professional development and progression”
The government will provide training awards for students of the new institute. The awards will cover fees plus an allowance. Get paid to study. Not bad, hor. With this, preschool teachers can make a strong start to their careers.
But is it rewarding?
It depends on how you define what a rewarding career is. But one thing is certain, the government is going to do a lot to upgrade the preschool profession in order to attract good teachers and carers.
PM Lee mentioned one Marie Luo in his NDR speech,
Like Ms Marie Luo. I met her when I visited the MOE Kindergarten at Punggol View. Marie used to work at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), overseeing productivity. But Marie loved to take care of young children, so when MOE Kindergartens started up, she gave it a try. (She) has been teaching for more than a year, and can look forward to a good career.
To encourage more people like Marie to join the preschool sector, we will raise the standing of the profession.
Beyond training, the government will work with employers to ensure good career prospects and competitive pay. Preschool teachers can expect various routes for career progression. If they so desire, they have the opportunities to be senior specialists, supervisors, and principals.
Salaries are also set to go up. Over the last five years, as the sector expanded and upgraded, preschool salaries have already gone up. Now that we are expanding the sector, the salaries will improve further. More importantly, salaries will match career progression.
Not just for money and career progression
A career as a preschool teacher isn’t just rewarding because of the improving salaries or career progression. It’s a career that contributes to a crucial broader social purpose. Access to affordable, quality preschools will help level the playing field for young children.
If we have great teachers in all the preschools, then all preschools will be good preschools.
And we want every child to go to a good preschool, so that all children, regardless of family background, have the best possible start in life. This will foster social mobility, and sustain a fair and just society.
Great for teachers, but what about parents?
If salaries of teachers go up, will it mean that preschool fees will go up? It may. But probably not by much. Because the government is increasing its expenditure on preschools. By 2022, the government expenditure on preschools will double from $850million today to $1.7billion. Presumably a good amount of that will go towards helping preschools manage the manpower costs without passing the costs to on to parents.