At the 2017 Committee of Supply debates today, the Ministry of Social and Family Development announced new initiatives to attract more persons to become infant educarers and to develop more rewarding careers in the early childhood sector.
These measures support the planned increase in the number of infant care places to over 8,000 by 2020 announced at Budget 2017, and are part of the Government’s commitment to make Singapore a great place for families and to ensure a good start for every child.
New apprenticeship mode of training for Infant Educarers
From end-March 2017, ECDA will pilot a new training approach to attract individuals with the right aptitude and competency to work with infants. The pilot will support ECDA’s plans to attract 1,000 more persons to become infant educarers by 2020.
Similar to an apprenticeship, new entrants will undergo a shorter training programme with more time spent on structured on-the-job training and coaching from an experienced and trained mentor. This new approach caters to individuals, including more mature women, who are not inclined towards long classroom-based training. The training would allow them to directly apply newly-acquired knowledge on the job and learn from experienced mentors. Individuals keen to join the sector through this programme will be considered based on their aptitude and competence, rather than based on academic qualifications.
New entrants will take on the role as Allied Infant Educarers and work closely with existing certified Infant Educarers to conduct planned activities. They will be supervised by Senior Infant Educarers. Allied Infant Educarers can also receive further training to be certified as Infant Educarers.
This arrangement also creates opportunities for experienced Infant Educarers to assume larger job roles as Senior Infant Educarers, to coach and lead the infant care team in their centres. Ultimately, parents and their infants will benefit from higher quality care and development.
The pilot will involve about 30 Anchor Operator child care centres, with the first batch of Allied Infant Educarers beginning their training in March this year.
New Professional Development Programme for Educarers
Later this month, ECDA will also launch a new Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Educarers. Educarers are early childhood professionals who work with infants, toddlers and nursery-aged children.
This programme aims to support educarers who have an interest in deepening their skills in the early years of child development, and are keen to take on larger job roles. Through the programme, educarers will be able to hone their competencies through a combination of core training, community sharing of knowledge and skills that include opportunities to showcase their learning, as well as elective courses or projects.
During the 3-year programme, educarers will continue to work at their existing centres and earn an income. They will also receive cash incentives, up to $12,000 in total, as long as they remain with their employers and complete yearly programme milestones.
To be appointed to the PDP, candidates need to be nominated by their employers and assessed by ECDA. Candidates should have at least three years of relevant teaching experience as an educarer and be currently employed in a pre-school registered or licensed by ECDA. Nominations for the first batch will open from 20 March to 12 May 2017, with the programme scheduled to begin in the second half of 2017.
New Advanced Diploma for Teachers supported under SkillsFuture Study Award
To support experienced early childhood teachers in upgrading and take on lead teacher roles in the sector, ECDA will launch a new Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching and Learning (ADECT). We will also extend the SkillsFuture Study Award, worth $5,000, to support teachers embarking on this course. Application details for the ADECT programme will be released in the second quarter of the year.
Currently, candidates taking up the Advanced Diploma for Early Childhood Leadership (ADECL) can already apply for the SkillsFuture Study Award. 63 pre-school teachers undertaking the ADECL have benefitted from the Study Award since last year, in preparation for taking on a centre leadership role.
About Allied Infant Educarer Training
1. How is the AIE training different from the current training for infant educarers?
Both AIE training and the existing training for Infant Educarers (i.e. Higher Certificate in Infant Care (HCIC)) can be done part-time where individuals can spend a part of their working hours attending training. However, on-the-job training will make up a larger portion of the AIE training compared to the HCIC course, for which a majority of the training is delivered within the classroom. The AIE training is aimed at equipping individuals with the fundamental skills for quality infant care, while HCIC training aims to give candidates more robust grounding in child development and guidance on planning developmentally appropriate activities.
2. Who can apply for the Allied Infant Educarer (AIE) training?
- To be eligible for AIE training under the current pilot, individuals should:
Be hired by participating AOP infant care centres
- Be 21 years old or above
- Have the right aptitude and competency to care for infants*
*Applicants will be assessed through modes such as interviews and written tests.
3. Who can qualify to be a Senior Infant Educarer?
To be eligible to take on the role of Senior Infant Educarer, nominees must:
- Be nominated by participating AOP infant care centre with the right aptitude and potential to mentor and lead a team;
- Be an ECDA-registered pre-school teacher or educarer with relevant experience working with infants.
4. How many AIEs is ECDA targeting to train?
ECDA targets to train about 200 AIEs within the next two to three years. This is subject to the response from the operators and the take-up from potential new entrants.
5. Will the AIE training be opened to non-AOP infant care centres?
Currently, the AIE training is only opened to selected AOP infant care centres as it is still in the pilot phase. More information will be provided after ECDA has reviewed this pilot.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME FOR EDUCARERS (PDP(E))
6. Who is eligible for PDP(E)?
To be eligible for the PDP(E), nominees must:
a. Have at least 3 years of relevant teaching experience in the early childhood sector;
b. Be currently employed in a pre-school registered or licensed with ECDA;
c. Be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident;
d. Be nominated by their current operator; and
e. Have met the competencies and skills of Infant/Toddler Educarer or Beginning Educarer as described in the Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).
7. What can educarers look forward to under PDP(E)?
The PDP(E) is a 3-year structured programme in line with the National SkillsFuture movement. It aims to develop educarers who have the potential to perform larger job roles, for example, Senior Educarers. Educarers can look forward to the following professional development activities:
a. Core Training on the Curriculum Resources under ECDA’s Early Years Development Framework: This course is designed to enable Educarers to better understand the 3 Rs – Respectful, Responsive and Reciprocal interactions, apply the 3 Rs in daily interactions and relationships with children and develop strategies for teamwork and centre-family partnerships.
b. Communities of Practice: This is to encourage active contribution and co-creation of knowledge and learning of skills amongst Educarers.
c. Showcase of Learning: This is to showcase learning and exchange ideas and best practices.
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses
- Teacher training programme modules that allow for career progression (CET DECCE-T, ACEY Top-up, ACECCE pre-requisite modules and ACEY pre-requisite modules1)
- Projects (Innovation or Practitioner Inquiry Grant projects or Centre-based projects)
8. How many educarers can we expect for the PDP(E)?
The number of participants will depend on the quality of nominations received and response from the operators and educarers. We expect around 200 candidates to benefit from PDP(E) over the next four years.
9. What is the progress of the PDP for Teachers?
More than 200 pre-school teachers have been appointed to the PDP for Teachers since its roll-out last year.
10. How many can we expect to benefit from the PDP?
As we further develop the PDP and increase the selection of modular courses for future batches of PDP participants, we expect more early childhood educators to participate in PDP. In all, we expect up to 1,000 early childhood
SKILLSFUTURE STUDY AWARD FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) SECTOR
11. Why is the ADECT supported with the SkillsFuture Study Award?
The ADECT aims to support the upgrading of Senior Pre-School Teachers to Lead Teachers. This is in line with the objective of the SkillsFuture Study Award to support skills deepening, and professional and career development of our early childhood educators.
12. What is the eligibility criteria for SkillsFuture Study Award? How many will be selected or targeted each year?
The eligibility criteria for SkillsFuture Study Award is as follows:
- Singaporeans with at least 3 years of work experience in the EC Sector
Committed to deepening skills in the sector
- Has a track record of contributing to learning and training of self and/or others
- Must be accepted into and provide proof of admission to supported course (i.e. ADECL or ADECT) [Full Qualification] before applying for the SkillsFuture Study Award for Early Childhood (EC) Sector
- Must not have begun Post-Diploma Certificate 2 of supported course (i.e. ADECL or ADECT) before the end of the application period
- Not a previous recipient of any SkillsFuture Study Award
The number of recipients for the SkillsFuture Study Award depends on the quality of applications received. ECDA aims to support as many deserving candidates as possible.
13. For a certified teacher, between PDP(Teacher), ADECT and ADECL, which should he/she choose?
These programmes target different groups of teachers, and teachers should consider applying for a programme that best meets their needs and career aspirations. In particular:
- The PDP(Teacher) targets Pre-school Teachers with at least 3 years’ experience to help them develop the competencies needed take on a senior teacher role at their centre.
- ADECT supported by SFSA targets Senior Pre-school Teachers with at least 3 years’ experience to prepare them for the role of teacher leadership (i.e. Lead Teachers).
- ADECL supported by SFSA targets Senior Pre-school Teachers with at least 3 years’ experience to prepare them for the role of centre leadership (i.e. Centre Leaders).
There are also distinctive features of the respective programmes (e.g. nomination by operator, certification) which the individual can factor into his/her decision. Please refer to Annex D for examples of the programmes that an Early Childhood professional may undertake.
14. Will the SkillsFuture Study Award be extended to other EC courses?
At this point, the supported courses for the EC sector are the ADECL and ADECT programmes. ECDA will continue to review whether the SkillsFuture Study Award can be extended to other EC courses in future, that can help EC educators to deepen their skills.
SUMMARY OF KEY OF PROGRAMMES TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFESSIONALS AT EACH STAGE OF THEIR CAREERS
ADECT: Advanced Diploma for Early Childhood Teaching & Learning
ADECL: Advanced Diploma for Early Childhood Leadership
DECCE-T: Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education – Teaching
ACECCE: Advanced Certificate in Early Childhood Care & Education
ACEY: Advanced Certificate in Early Years
HCIC: Higher Certificate in Infant Care
In line with the Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care & Education, Early Childhood (EC) professionals have opportunities to develop professionally and progress based on their competencies.
- For trainee teachers:
ECDA Training Awards for full-time students at the ITE, Polytechnics and University.
- Enhanced internships for both full-time EC Polytechnic Diploma and ITE Higher Nitec Students, with more structured learning outcomes, mentoring and a longer duration to strengthen applied learning, supported by an Early Childhood Capability Grant.
For in-service professionals:
- SkillsFuture Study Award to develop EC educators to assume leadership responsibilities. This award is currently open to EC educators who are Singapore Citizens, have been successfully accepted into ADECL or ADECT and have at least 3 years of working experience in the EC sector.
- Professional Development Programme to equip teachers and educarers with skills and competencies for larger job roles.
- ECDA Fellows programme to recognise and tap on pinnacle leaders to drive quality improvements across the sector, and help strengthen the fraternity of EC educators.
For mid-career entrants:
- The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP), an accelerated training programme for career-switchers with tertiary qualifications, with training stipend co-funded by WSG
- Place-and-Train mode for EC educator training courses at all levels