Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, at the HMI Institute of Health Sciences Graduation Ceremony, 18 April 2017
Dr Gan See Khem, Executive Chairman & Group Managing Director, Health Management International
Ms Chin Wei Jia, Group Chief Executive Officer, Health Management International
Mr Tee Soo Kong, General Manager, HMI Institute of Health Sciences
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
- Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you at this year's HMI Institute of Health Sciences' Graduation Ceremony.
- My heartiest congratulations to all 403 graduates who have successfully attained the WSQ Certifications for Healthcare Support. Your graduation is a culmination of many months of hard work, and I'm glad that your loved ones and lecturers are here today to celebrate your achievements with you.
- For many of you, today also marks the start of a new career in healthcare, and I would like to warmly welcome you into our healthcare family. Many of you would be joining us in the areas of Nursing Care, Administrative Support, Operating Theatre Support, or Therapy Support and we look forward to your contributions in these areas.
Healthcare – a growing sector
- Healthcare is a growing sector in Singapore. With an ageing population, demand for healthcare will increase. We estimated that about 9,000 additional healthcare staff will be needed in the next three years for new facilities and services in the public and community healthcare settings. We are working to encourage and enable locals to take up a majority of these jobs which are both clinical and non-clinical.
- Besides fresh school leavers, the Ministry of Health is committed to enabling more mid-career Singaporeans to take up jobs in healthcare and supporting them in their training for new jobs. Mdm Carol Sia, who is present today, is an example of someone who has made a successful switch into the sector. Having worked in sales for 9 years, followed by merchandising and administration for another 4 years, she decided to make a switch to healthcare and contribute in a meaningful capacity. At the age of 50, she underwent the WSQ healthcare support course and joined SATA CommHealth as a Therapy Assistant since January 2017. I would like to applaud Carol and all our mid-career graduates for their admirable attitude towards lifelong learning.
Developing our healthcare workforce
- To enable more mid-career Singaporeans to switch into healthcare, MOH is investing an additional $24 million over the next three years to enhance our healthcare conversion and training programmes. These programmes include the Healthcare Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) which help mid-career Singaporeans train and switch into healthcare roles as nurses, allied health professionals (AHPs) and dental surgery assistants. This year, MOH is increasing the funding for nursing PCP training where employers will only co-fund 10% of the training cost, compared to the current 20% to 50%. We will also provide employers with up to $16,000 of on-the-job training support per mid-career nurse, to support the transition of these nurses into a new career.
- There are also a variety of support care roles for Singaporeans in the growing healthcare sector. Our public hospitals are looking to recruit and train more mid-career Singaporeans as Basic Care Assistants, to provide personal care to patients. The expanding community care sector is also actively recruiting mid-career Singaporeans to take up Healthcare Assistant and Therapy Assistant positions. MOH will be providing employers with on-the-job training support of $10,000 for each new entrant into these direct care support roles. In addition, new Healthcare Assistants and Therapy Assistants joining the community care sector will also eligible for a bonus of up to $3,000 if they complete one year of service with their employer.
- Apart from government efforts, training and education providers such as HMI Institute play an important role in helping Singaporeans take up careers in healthcare. HMI Institute has been working closely with healthcare institutions in the primary, acute and community care settings to ensure that its programmes are relevant to the needs of the healthcare industry. It also actively provides career advice and facilitates job placement for its graduates. The Students' Job fair this morning is a good example of this, where the Institute has brought in 10 healthcare employers offering 160 vacancies. We are heartened by HMI Institute's continual efforts to train and support its graduates with job placement opportunities.
Importance of continuous training and upgrading
- A career in healthcare is fulfilling and also a challenging one. Changing patient needs and acuity and technological advancements will change the way we work in healthcare. Healthcare workers will need to be continually equipped with new skills and knowledge, together with the right mindsets and attitudes, to contribute competently and effectively to the care of our patients.
- There are various initiatives to support continual skills development for healthcare workers. In addition to employer-provided training, there are more than 500 healthcare-related training courses on the SkillsFuture course directory. Public and community care employers also provide scholarships and sponsorships to in-service staff for upgrading. MOH is embarking on an effort with partners to develop a Skills Framework for the healthcare sector. The framework will provide information on the competencies and training programmes for various healthcare roles and support healthcare workers in developing their skills and career in the sector.
- One of HMI Institute's alumni members, Ms Sivaranjini, whom we saw in the video earlier, is an outstanding example of someone who has never stopped pursuing opportunities to upgrade herself. At the age of 19, Ms Siva underwent the WSQ healthcare support course and was employed by Tan Tock Seng Hospital as a Healthcare Assistant. After working for two years, she was sponsored by the hospital to take up the nursing course in ITE. She was promoted to an Enrolled Nurse this year after completing her course and I understand she is hoping to pursue nursing diploma studies in the near future to become a Staff Nurse. Congratulations to Siva for being one of the four recipients of the Outstanding Award for Alumni today!
- While a career in healthcare has its challenges, many who have joined will also share with you that it is a very rewarding experience. As a healthcare worker, you touch the lives of patients and their families every day and this also presents you with many opportunities to make a difference to their lives in your own ways. I wish you all the very best as you embark on your new careers, and hope that you will too, by example, motivate and inspire more mid-career Singaporeans alike to choose a meaningful career in this sector.
- Thank you.