People employed in programmes funded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will from Apr 1 have their salary norms enhanced by up to 12 per cent, said Minister Desmond Lee on Wednesday (Mar 7).

These professions include early intervention and special education teaching staff; psychologists, social workers, therapists, nurses and others.

“For example, a senior teacher trained in early special needs education may expect an increase of about 8 per cent,” said Mr Lee.

“Our future social needs are growing in complexity and intensity, and will inevitably demand more from the sector and our professionals … For our VWOs (Voluntary Welfare Organisations) to be effective, we need to continue to get good people to join and stay in the sector.”

He added: “Many of those who work in the social service sector do not do it for the remuneration. They see it as a calling. Nonetheless, they deserve to receive a fair and competitive wage and have their contributions duly recognised.”

Salary norms refer to the average gross monthly salary of comparable jobs in the labour market, which MSF uses to derive the amount of manpower funding for programmes run by VWOs under the ministry.


Salary norms are reviewed by MSF and NCSS every three years. In between, salaries are also adjusted to keep pace with annual average wage growth in the broader labour market.

The National Council of Social Services (NCSS) will reflect these salary norms in guidelines which VWOs are encouraged to take reference from, though they still retain the flexibility to manage their own financial and human resources.

Currently, about three-quarters of employees in VWOs running MSF-funded programmes are paid within the guidelines.

“MSF’s recurrent funding to VWO-run programmes will increase by about S$11 million, or 5 per cent, in FY (financial year) 2018,” said Mr Lee.

A Skills Framework for Social Service will also be launched later this year, he announced.

“This framework is developed jointly with SSG (SkillsFuture Singapore), our VWOs and social service professionals to help professionals better plan their careers and proactively develop their skills to meet the demands of the sector,” said Mr Lee.

“It will have information on career prospects, skills required for key professions, as well as the learning platforms to develop these skills.”

“These and other initiatives support VWOs in attracting and grooming good people. And I hope that employees and employers will make full use of them, so that we become stronger as a sector and fulfil our mission in social services.”

Mr Lee commented: “The (social service) sector and those who work in it are vital and indispensable partners in our mission to tackle income inequality, lift families and individuals, protect the vulnerable, and ensure that no one is left behind.”

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