PLANS BEYOND COVID-19 PANDEMIC TO RECRUIT SINGAPOREANS FOR JOBS IN HEALTHCARE AND OTHER RELATED SECTORS

MP He Ting Ru

Ms He Ting Ru asked the Minister for Health what are the plans beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to recruit and hire Singaporeans for jobs in healthcare and other healthcare related sectors to ensure that future manpower capacity in these sectors are sufficient and sustainable. 

Mr Ong Ye Kung: The Ministry of Health has always been committed to ensuring sufficient manpower in the healthcare sector. With an ageing population and rising prevalence of chronic diseases, we anticipate that the demand for healthcare services and therefore the demand for healthcare manpower will continue to increase. Over the years, even before the pandemic, we established various schemes and programmes to attract and recruit local fresh graduates, mid-career individuals and mature workers as well as retain healthcare workers in the sector. 

Our local intakes for healthcare professional programmes remain healthy, with intakes increasing by 27% in the past ten years, from around 2,700 in 2010 to 3,400 in 2020. We will continue to work with educational institutions to ensure an adequate training pipeline, supported by outreach and Education and Career Guidance to encourage students to consider a healthcare career.

We also have our Healthcare Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) to support individuals in making a mid-career switch into professions such as Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Diagnostic Radiography. Some of these are accelerated programmes, allowing eligible individuals to complete their training in a shorter time. We have seen an encouraging increase in interest in the CCPs over time. Between 2019 and 2021, we enrolled an average of around 180 mid-career locals per year into our healthcare CCPs, up from an average of 110 per year between 2016 and 2018. 

For the Community Care Sector, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) has been working with community care organisations (CCOs) and recruitment partners like Workforce Singapore (WSG) and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to attract and recruit more locals. In 2020, these efforts recruited about 900 locals for over 48 CCOs. In addition, AIC introduced a Senior Management Associate Scheme to facilitate the recruitment of mid-career locals for leadership and managerial roles in CCOs. Between 2017 and 2020, more than 150 mid-career locals have successfully transited into the community care sector, working as centre managers and human resource managers.  

Salaries play a key role in the attraction and retention of staff. We regularly monitor and review the salary competitiveness of our public healthcare institutions to ensure that they are competitive against the market. This also includes the review of starting salaries, to ensure that healthcare professions are attractive to students. In July 2021, a round of salary enhancements was rolled out for all nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacists, administrative and ancillary staff in both the public healthcare institutions and community care sector. We will do this carefully and reasonably, since increasing manpower and salaries also adds to healthcare costs.

Attrition and rising workload due to COVID-19 have been recent challenges, but we are determined to overcome them. We are encouraged that hiring into the public healthcare sector has remained strong and that people still do want to join healthcare. For example, the combined annual inflow of nurses and allied health professionals has increased, from 1,900 in 2018 to 2,300 in 2020. But we are a small country, and there is a limit to recruitment for any one sector. So this will continue to be a major challenge to address. 

Our public healthcare institutions rose to the challenge and have evolved their recruitment, hiring and deployment practices. For example, institutions have cross-deployed staff across professions and departments into areas of need, and leveraged volunteers and other short-term sources of manpower to further augment the workforce. We have also partnered private healthcare providers to ensure smooth delivery of healthcare services, including the running of Community Care Facilities and Community Treatment Facilities, and telemedicine consultation for home recovery patients. 

MOH will build on the lessons from COVID-19, and continue to work together with our stakeholders to secure sufficient manpower to meet our future healthcare needs. 

Ministry of Health
14 February 2022

https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/sprs3topic?reportid=written-answer-na-9718

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