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Thursday January 24th 2019

More home-grown confinement nannies (ST 9 Oct)

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For Madam Lim, the course helps her break into a new industry after a year of unsuccessful job hunting. She has already landed her first assignment. — ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

More home-grown confinement nannies
Courses to help older S’poreans find jobs as demand exceeds supply

By Theresa Tan

MORE Singaporeans are being trained to be confinement nannies to help new mums, a role which is now dominated by Malaysians.

The KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully (Wings) are jointly starting their first confinement nanny training programme next Monday.

Ms Amy Tan, the executive director of Wings, a charity which helps older women in areas such as counselling and skills training, said it decided to initiate the course as its research showed demand for such services outweighed supply here.

The course provides older Singaporeans with job opportunities as confinement nannies, who typically stay with mothers and help them care for their newborns in the first month of the child’s life.

Participants will learn how to care for a newborn, how to cook for a mother recovering from childbirth and techniques to help new mums breastfeed, among other things.

Madam Angie Lim, 49, decided to take up the course after a year spent job hunting.

The former insurance agent sent out ‘countless’ resumes, even for housekeeping jobs, but to no avail.

‘The job market is bad and I’m 49, going on 50 and it’s really hard to get a job,’ said the mother of two daughters, aged 18 and 20. ‘And since I like children so much, I thought why not be a confinement nanny?’

Agencies interviewed say the trade is currently filled by Malaysians, as there were few local takers for such jobs before.

Ms Lily Lim, who runs the Pem Confinement Nanny agency, said: ‘Singaporeans see it as a maid’s job and they don’t like to stay in a stranger’s house.’

Besides, agencies say Malaysians are popular with mothers as they charge less for their services and are also said to be less demanding.

For example, a Malaysian nanny who stays with the family for 28 days charges $2,200, but a Singaporean may ask for $2,600 or even more, said Ms Becky Eng, boss of NannyPro.

She added: ‘And these Singaporeans don’t want to stay overnight with their clients during their confinement month and some even ask for Sundays off.’

The Manpower Ministry told The Straits Times it receives an average of 800 applications each year for temporary work permits to work as confinement nannies and the number of such applications has been stable over the years.

To qualify, a nanny must be a Malaysian woman aged between 23 and 58, and work at her employer’s residential address.

The KKH is not the first hospital here to run a confinement nanny training course.

Thomson Medical Centre started doing so in 2003 and has so far trained close to 50 Singaporeans.

Its spokesman said its confinement nannies are very popular with mothers.

While it remains to be seen if mothers will warm to locals as they have to Malaysians, Madam Lim has already found her first assignment next month, even before her course started.

She said: ‘I hope new parents will be more confident when they hear about my professional training. Now, I can post on Facebook that I have a certificate in confinement nanny training.’

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