SINGAPORE: Maid agents in Singapore are looking to hire more foreign domestic helpers from Sri Lanka.
From next year, the Association of Employment Agencies plans to bring in between 500 and 1,000 Sri Lankan maids a month, up from the current 100 to 200 a month.
Based on records from the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore, there are about 4,500 Sri Lankan maids here.
The association said this will help to make up for the shortfall in maids from traditional source countries, such as Indonesia and Philippines.
It will be signing an agreement with Sri Lankan authorities and employment agencies next month to facilitate the recruitment of maids.
The move to bring in more domestic helpers from Sri Lanka is part of efforts to improve the quality of domestic helpers here.
Most of the Sri Lankan maids speak English and have at least 10 years of education. About 40 per cent of them have ’A’ level qualifications.
Employment agencies here said it is important to make Singapore an attractive destination for Sri Lankan women hoping to work as domestic helpers overseas.
K Jayaprema, the president of the Association of Employment Agencies said: "It’s very important that when we are reviving this new market, we don’t want it to go wrong because we are focusing on attracting quality FDWs (foreign domestic workers) to Singapore and for that to happen, we need to have good employment terms, the welfare of the domestic workers have to be taken care of and it must be attractive for them to come in."
A J Razzy, director of maid agency Cobb Douglas said: "There are some things that have changed for example, with the scrapping of the entry test, there are many more opportunities for agents at Sri Lanka to recruit Sri Lankan foreign domestic workers for the Singapore market."
The association is working with Sri Lankan authorities to spell out training requirements for maids, and speed up the hiring process.
Sri Lanka has an extensive training programme of more than 20 days for maids.
Singapore maid agents would like the programme to focus more on aspects such as household skills and safety.
Ms Jayaprema said that the processing time for recruitment of these maids could be faster.
The Association of Employment Agencies led a delegation of 30 maid agents to Sri Lanka recently to renew contacts with their counterparts.
It met with the Sri Lankan Bureau for Foreign Employment, which is the regulatory body for overseas recruitment of workers, and the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Agency.
In addition, the association met over 60 Sri Lankan recruitment agencies. The last time the association organised a visit there was in 2007.
Maid agents say Sri Lankan workers can between S$400 and S$500 a month.
Sri Lanka is the fifth biggest source of maids in Singapore after Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Myanmar.
A recent report from the National Population and Talent Division forecast that Singapore is going to need some 100,000 more maids by 2030.
Muniyandi Vasanthakumari has been working as a domestic helper in Singapore for 15 years. The 45—year—old Sri Lankan is happy here and gets along well with her employer’s family.
"She reads what we want, she knows our preference and she does it beforehand. Before I can tell her what I need, it’s already done," said her employer Komathi Anbalahan.
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