Singapore is investing S$24 million in various schemes to attract and encourage more citizens to take up jobs in the healthcare sector and fill the country’s need for 9,000 healthcare workers over the next three years, according to its Ministry of Health (MOH).
Among the 9,000 additional staff needed, about half are Professional, Manager, Executive and Technician (PMET) level roles such as nurses, therapists, administrative executives and operations managers, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.
“The positive news is that growth in the healthcare sector will bring many good jobs, clinical and non-clinical, and at different levels, for Singaporeans. In the next three years, we estimate that about 9,000 additional staff will be needed for new facilities and services in the public healthcare and aged care settings,” Dr.Khor said during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate session.
One of the initiatives aimed at attracting mid-career Singaporeans involves increased funding for the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Nursing scheme so that employers co-fund only 10% of the training cost, a reduction from the current 20-50%.
Employers that hire enrolled nurses and registered nurses who graduate from the PCP will also receive new on-the-job training support of S$12,000 and S$16,000 respectively. Registered nurses handle more medical duties, while enrolled nurses support registered nurses in providing essential nursing duties such as conducting active patient and caregiver education.
“The funding will encourage employers to admit more PCP-trained nurses and enable them to better support these nurses in their transition to a new career,” said Dr.Khor. “We will also tap on Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) new Attach and Train scheme to enable more mid-career Singaporeans to take up PCP nursing training.”
A two-year overseas nursing scholarship will also be introduced to support non-nursing degree graduates to pursue a Graduate Entry Masters nursing program overseas. Upon graduation, recipients of this scholarship will return to practice as registered nurses in public healthcare institutions. The ministry aims to give out 20 scholarships annually, according to Dr.Khor.
Non-clinical roles, such as administrative and executive positions in the areas of human resource and hospital operations, will also be made available for PMETs.
Meanwhile, the Regional Health Systems (RHS) will be training more mid-career Singaporeans as care coordinator associates, to coordinate the care services required by patients post-discharge and empower patients to manage their conditions at home.
Several public hospitals have also created basic care assistant positions that will provide personal care to patients, such as feeding and transferring. Employers are set to receive on-the-job training support of S$10,000 for each basic care assistant hired.
Dr.Khor said public hospitals are aiming to recruit about 200 Singaporeans for this part-time position over the next three years.
Mid-career professionals with managerial experience can also tap on the Senior Management Associate Scheme to switch to the aged care sector, which is also on the lookout for PMETs to lead the new institutions, Dr.Khor said.
More care staff will also be needed as MOH aims to increase day and home care services by 40% between 2016 and 2020, in a bid to strengthen home and community care options to help seniors age comfortably at home and in the community.
According to Dr.Khor, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will enhance the Community Care Traineeship Programme (CCTP) by including “more structured bite-sized training” to help Singaporeans take up healthcare and therapy assistant roles. In addition, employers will receive on-the-job training support of S$10,000 for each new care worker.
As part of its efforts to grow the healthcare workforce, the ministry also wants to attract non-practicing local nurses to rejoin the healthcare sector, and in particular, take up new positions in the aged care sector.
Under the “Return to Nursing” Programme, nurses employed by aged care providers will receive support for their refresher training course fees and draw full salaries during the three-month training duration. Returning nurses transiting into the aged care sector will also be eligible for a bonus of between S$3,000 and S$5,000.