Channel NewsAsia

15% wage increase for 5,000 healthcare support staff

The development results from the work of the Healthcare Cluster Tripartite Workgroup, which has used the progressive wage model to also push for skills upgrading and productivity initiatives along with an increase in pay. 

SINGAPORE: About 5,000 support staff in the healthcare sector - including attendants, healthcare assistants and patient service associates - would get a wage increase of about 15 per cent by the end of this year, following two years of efforts to enhance workers’ skills, productivity and career progression options.

The Labour Movement’s Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay gave this update on Friday (Aug 15) at a National Day Observance ceremony. The development is the brainchild of the Healthcare Cluster Tripartite Workgroup, launched in 2012.

A junior patient service associate, for instance, currently stands to earn between S$1,100 and S$1,500. After the 15 per cent wage increase, he or she will now earn between S$1,200 and S$1,700.

Using the progressive wage model as a guide, the committee sought to achieve its goal through skill-upgrading, productivity, career progression and wages. Hospitals such as the National University Hospital (NUH), for instance, have moved to strengthen the career progression of employees, like its patient service associates.

Said Ms Clara Wee, Director of Human Resource at NUH: "For example, when we want to progress someone from a patient service associate to a service team leader where she has to take on a supervisory role, we have put in place a four-day training service leader programme where we teach them how to first coach their team, to perform excellently, and then secondly to manage service operations."

Besides such training, NUH will also sponsor the school fees of its staff should they wish to pursue higher education, like a diploma or a degree. Such a move has been beneficial for employees. "I have seen changes in my career as a patient service associate,” said Ms June Chua, Senior Service Team Leader at NUH. “We have a lot of training in place for those who want to progress further, in areas like leadership. We got the chance to even (get) involved in projects."

Mr Tay said the next step is to share some best practices from this model and implement it in institutions providing intermediate and long-term care. "In Singapore, over the next five to 10 years, we will see more and more of these step-down care facilities and institutions being set up," he said. "So we hope that some of these best practices can be shared at a suitable platform so that they can be adopted, and therefore help those workers in the step-down care sector."

He also believes there is more room for improvement when it comes to raising productivity. "One of the important pillars of the progressive wage model, besides the final objective of raising wages, is also to raise productivity and the skills and training levels of our workforce," he said, noting that healthcare institutions need to continue to embark on various productivity projects to make jobs "easier, safer and smarter" for workers.

Mr Tay also revealed that NTUC's employment and training arm e2i has managed to secure 3,000 jobs for Singaporeans in the healthcare sector over the past two years, with more than half of these jobs filled by women re-entering the workforce.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia