Demand for caregivers will grow as Singapore’s population ages, and the Sri Lanka High Commission wants Sri Lankan women to fill the shortfall in supply.
To get them ready, its First Secretary for Employment, Welfare and Promotion Geeth Jayasinghe hopes to start them off as maids. He is asking employers in Singapore to consider Sri Lankan women when looking for domestic helpers.
“Working for locals is a way for (domestic workers) to gain the experience to take on caregiver roles in the future,” said Geeth in a media interview.
The High Commission has rolled out a pilot programme that will enroll maids from Sri Lanka into a 56-hour caregiver course provided by Aaxonn, for a discounted rate of $10. So far, 100 people are in the programme, Geeth said. By next year, he expects 1,000 maids to be enrolled.
Sri Lanka’s move comes as popular source countries for domestic workers, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, are introducing tougher measures for employers in Singapore.
But Geeth said that the numbers are improving. Last year, 497 newcomers signed on with employers in Singapore, up from 46 in 2013.
Furthermore, Sri Lankan maids have a good track record, he added, noting his fellow citizens have won the Foreign Domestic Worker of the Year award for the past five consecutive years.
Past President Seah Seng Choon warned that employers may not take to maids from Sri Lanka so quickly. Most employers may prefer someone who can converse in their language, which explains why Indonesian and Filipino maids are more popular, he said. Sri Lankan maids are particularly popular with Indian families “because they may share the same language”.