More maternity matrons seeking skills upgrade
In a bid to stand out from the growing competition, many Chinese maternity matrons are now looking to value-add their services by investing in classes to pick up new skills, according to industry insiders.
These skills include psychological guidance for mothers to prevent postpartum depression and traditional Chinese medical techniques such as acupuncture and physical therapy.
Nearly 800 maternity matrons took part in a recent vocational skills competition in Dongguan, Guangdong province, and showcased their proficiency in protecting the safety and health of their clients.
Those who made it through to the next round will compete based on other skills such as cooking nutritious maternity meals for mothers and supplementary food for babies. The winner of the competition will be awarded the Labor Medal by the city government.
“Maternity matrons today want to diversify their skill set. This is a platform for them to be able to communicate and learn from each other, thus improving their overall level of skills”, said Yi Xiaoling, a representative of the competition organizer.
Gao Yiyan, who works at Renren Domestic Service Company in Shanghai, suggested that this enhancement of skill sets is necessary as clients have in recent times been demanding more from maternity matrons.
“We get a sense of what clients need through communication with new mothers. In order to improve their skills and income, maternity matrons are willing to learn more,” said Gao.
The maternity care sector in China has been growing in recent years as people become more affluent and can now afford to hire matrons. Furthermore, industry experts expect the two-child policy — it took effect on Jan 1, 2016 — to generate even greater demand for such professionals.
According to Yi, people born after the 1990s have also began to show greater interest in pursuing a career monthly salary in Shanghai is 8,664 yuan.
The webpage of KissMami, a Shanghai-based private nanny company, shows that many of their senior maternity matrons have more than eight years of experience. Most of them also possess certificates related to skills such as nutrition, lactation stimulation and child massage.
To be a maternity matron in China, one must first pass the required exam and obtain a certificate issued by the human resource department of the government.
An industry insider who declined to be named said that the maternity care market used to be largely unregulated, resulting in the emergence of many fake certificates, an issue that was once reported. Zhang Baoxia, secretary-general of the Shanghai Home Service Industry Association, had also commented before that the forgery of such certificates is rife.
“However, with the government now attaching more importance to the industry, the situation is getting normalized,” said the insider. “Domestic services companies that sign formal labor contracts with maternity matrons have also started to emerge.”
The China National Standardizing Committee launched national standards for maternal and infant care in February to help improve their service and skills. According to Zhang, Shanghai will be looking to introduce local trade standards. She added that authorities plan to unveil these standards at the beginning of 2017.
Fang Aiqing contributed to this story.