Siva was a technician for five years but wanted to work in a field where he could engage with and help people. Through the Professional Conversion Programme, he left his job to become a social worker at SINDA, an organisation that helps to uplift the socio-economic status of communities in Singapore.
Tell us more about your role.
I work at the SINDA Family Service Centre (FSC) which services clients from low-income families. As a Social Worker, I assess and support disadvantaged and vulnerable families with counselling services and link them to the appropriate community resources.
Why did you join social service?
I was a technician for five years but found that the job was not my cup of tea. I had a strong urge to work with people directly. I also had an interest in counselling and after much self-reflection, I decided to explore a role that would allow me to meet and impact people positively.
How did you become a social worker?
I approached a social worker to find out more about the job and she gave me first-hand insight about what it was like to be a social worker—including the trials, tribulations and rewards of working in the field. After speaking to her, I knew this was the role for me. The social worker recommended I apply for the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP)—just as she had—that supports mid-career individuals in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to become qualified social workers.
I applied for the PCP and I’ve had no regrets about making the switch.
How did the PCP help you?
I don’t come from a wealthy family, and the PCP certainly helped fund my study and training to become a social worker. Through the organised PCP route, I was also able to complete the steps of acquiring all the necessary qualifications to become a social worker, and later, gain a placement at a social service agency. These opportunities allowed me to study while working, enabling me to apply my newly-learnt skills directly to the role and gaining effective, real-world experience.
That’s wonderful. What has your experience been like as a Social Worker so far?
The transition was initially a little challenging because diving into a completely new role and industry is never easy, but my colleagues have been incredibly helpful in supporting and guiding me on my journey. I’ve been at SINDA for four years now and I’ve never been happier. As social service professionals, we’re exposed to many experiences and I’ve definitely grown as both a professional and a person. I’m more adaptable with my cases and can connect much better with my clients now.
Can you tell us about a particularly memorable experience with a client?
I once supported a 60-year-old client who was incarcerated. From the initial court hearings to the day she was discharged, I remember being with her throughout the entire ordeal as her social worker. It was a difficult time for her as she was a single mother and did not know how to support her daughter who was still a teenager. I worked together with the family to set up caregiving arrangements, carry out administrative processes, and supported them emotionally through counselling. The day my client was released, she called me, and her voice was full of gratitude. I’ll never forget that day because it reflects how we, as social workers, play a crucial role in helping those lacking support get through life’s challenges.
Tell us more about the impact of your work in the community.
Social issues such as poverty and discrimination have the potential to disrupt lives. And the truth is—these circumstances can happen to anyone. The only difference is that the vulnerable may not necessarily have adequate support to get back on their feet, and that’s why it’s so important that we work together to help them rebuild their future so they may live happy, purposeful lives.
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Sivasubramaniam speaking with a colleague.