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Leonard Lim, 21 Nov 2011
They are forming a growing proportion of the classroom brigade, and staying longer than those who plumped for teaching as a first career. Mid-career recruits - defined as those with at least a year s working experience before they became educators - now make up a quarter of the approximately 31,000 teachers. The corresponding figures were 15 per cent and 22 per cent in 2002 and 2007 respectively, according to data from the Ministry of Education. They also tend to stay in the job longer. About 90 per cent remain after three years, compared to around 85 per cent for fresh graduate recruits. Commenting on the trend, a ministry spokesman said mid-career teachers, having worked in other jobs, are usually more certain of their career choices. And some of them also perform well and rise up fast, some principals noted, because they are able to draw on their richer work and life experiences when they teach. Said Riverside Secondary School principal, Mrs Sng Siew Hong, 49: Being older, they have been exposed, and are also aware of expectations like productivity when working for an organisation. They tend to rise up quite fast to leadership positions. When Mrs Sng, a pure-bred teacher, assumed the top post at the school in 2007, two out of 14 in her leadership team - comprising heads of department, subject heads and vice-principals - were mid-career types. Today, seven are mid-career teachers. The top five sectors mid-career teachers come from are: the civil service, tertiary and private educational institutions, finance and insurance, information and communications, and manufacturing. Some are also high-flying bankers, military officers and accountants. Most take substantial pay cuts. Madam Sandra Ho, 49, a former director in Seagate Technology International, took an 80 per cent pay cut when she joined Zhangde Primary School in 2005.
Trainee teacher Tan Mian Ou, who worked as a combat /more_switch_jobs_to_teaching/
Overseas Singaporean Portal - Latest Home News
Trainee teacher Tan Mian Ou, who worked as a combat engineers officer in the army for 10 years, had his pay slashed by half to $2,900 when he made the career switch. It was painful, but I went in with my eyes wide open, said the 30-year-old. With the ministry set to grow its teaching force to 33,000 by 2015, the number of mid-career teachers is likely to increase. A recent half-page advertisement put up by the Education Ministry was targeted specifically at mid-career types. It reads: Every day, you wake up and ask yourself if you re making a difference at work. There s one way to be sure. Wake up and go to school instead. To help mid-career teachers catch up with their peers who chose teaching as their first job, it was announced in 2007 that they would enjoy faster promotions and extra salary increments. New mid-career recruits who were graduates and had at least three years working experience could also start one rung up in the teaching scale after they finished their training. This meant a few hundred dollars more each month in starting pay. Many making it to senior positions Also, up to 80 per cent of their non-teaching work experience would be taken into account when computing their starting pay, up from 50 per cent previously. Midcareer teachers are also making it to the highest echelons. Of the 22 newly-appointed principals that were announced last month, two are mid-career educators. Many mid-career teachers interviewed said they took the leap because they believe they can make a difference in students lives. The improved package did not figure as a big factor, though it was a draw. Mr David Chong, a former assistant director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he wanted to be a bridge between the theoretical world of education and the real working world. So far, interaction with students has been a great experience. While tiring at times, it has been satisfying, said the 35-year-old economics lecturer at Hwa Chong Institution. Still, there are transition issues to face - top of which is getting re-acquainted with the subject content. They also have to adjust the way they speak and interact with those around them. Mr Chong said: There is a distinct difference in working with adults, and with students. Many also have to adjust their lifestyles, because of the drop in salary. Those interviewed proclaim they have largely no regrets. Bedok Green Primary s Madam Norashinah Mohamed Yusope, 38, who was previously working in a statutory board, laments that her weekends are now spent marking instead of relaxing since she took up teaching 13 years ago.
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She was, however, quick to add: But I know I ve made the right choice. Source: The Straits Times Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission.