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The Association of Employment Agencies Singapore is embarking on several initiatives to deflect criticism of the section of the staffing market that provides domestic staff.
The efforts include launching a new online portal to serve the needs of agencies and employers, which will also be able to track information about employers and maids; a re-launch of the AEAS accreditation scheme and the introduction of a trust mark scheme for maid agencies next July.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, the association's president K Jayaprema said there is a need to raise professionalism and improve the quality of service.
Ms Jayaprema said: "The Ministry of Manpower has been receiving so many complaints about service quality, service delivery and the association, we receive complaints from employers every week (that) we have to resolve. I think we need to move away from this sense of unhappiness -- that it (employment agency industry) is not a professional industry.
However, some believe there are challenges, and one of them is the director of Cobb Douglas Consulting, A J Razzy. Mr Razzy said: "In order for the trust mark to be acceptable, it must have value and the public must be willing to trust it and believe that any agency who has this mark, has professional standards. In that way, it will become readily acceptable."
Some employers, like Sha Abdul Mukti, are looking forward to the changes. Mr Sha said: "With this portal, hopefully we know these (employment agencies) are the good ones. So, since they have a good track record, we're definitely going to contact them directly, thus saving us lots of time."
The domestic staffing market has been plagued by stories of exploitation (mostly of maids imported from poor waged countries) over many years and this has damaged the reputation of the staffing industry as a whole. The Ministry of Manpower told Channel NewsAsia that it supports these initiatives to professionalise the employment agency industry and to improve matching between the foreign domestic workers and their employers.
Similar actions are also being called for in Hong Kong, to read the full story in the South China Morning Post click here.