Madam Yeo Siew Lian remembers the day five years ago when her life changed completely after her husband passed away from a sudden heart attack. Not only did she lose her partner of 18 years, she found herself having to single-handedly provide for their daughter, who was then only 13 years old.
The couple ran a noodle store together and were also financially supporting her elderly mother. Though she was heartbroken and grieving, Madam Yeo knew she had to remain strong for the sake of her family.
I can’t just walk away just because my husband is gone… No matter what, I have to stay (strong) for my daughter.
Having had to close her store as it was not sustainable for her to run it alone, Madam Yeo looked for a job while picking up the pieces for her family. Three months later, she found one as a cleaner with Cleaning Concepts at a food court in Bukit Panjang.
Adjusting to the demands of the job was difficult at first. But she persevered with motivation from her supervisor. Her employer also encouraged her to go for training sessions under the Progressive Wage Model , which aims to uplift lower-income workers by setting out progression pathways for their wages to rise along with skills upgrading and training.
As part of her training, Madam Yeo attended courses such as a module on implementing workplace safety and health practices and another on customer management for service operations.
Knowing that I can’t read, [my boss] told me to try my best. Whenever I face a problem, I just have to ask and keep trying until I get it right.
Thanks to the training, she picked up new skills in customer service and was better able to handle certain situations, such as when assisting elderly customers.
Within 3 years, Madam Yeo was promoted to team leader and now earns 30 per cent more than her previous salary. Aside from her usual cleaning responsibilities, she’s also involved in delegating tasks, training new workers and scheduling shifts.
Thanks to government’s support, we got the help we needed. I’m not that afraid anymore.
Through these upskilling initiatives, Madam Yeo has been able to better provide for her family. She has set her sights on becoming a supervisor so she can earn more for her daughter who is turning 18 this year and plans to enroll in university.