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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 29 July 2007

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Dating agencies and practitioners in Singapore to be accreditated


Accreditation Framework For Local Dating Industry To Attain High Standards Of Professionalism

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) announced details of the Social Development Unit's (SDU) accreditation framework comprising a Code of Professional Conduct, and Accreditation Criteria and Standards, for dating agencies and dating practitioners.
The accreditation framework sets the benchmark for dating agencies and practitioners to attain high standards of professionalism and service delivery to singles. Agencies and practitioners who meet these standards will be awarded the SDU Trust Mark.
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said: '"Fundamentally, the SDU's accreditation framework must be able to give singles the assurance and confidence to use the private sector dating agencies. In November last year, I announced that SDU and SDS will ease out of direct service delivery in tandem with the growth of the dating industry. We must thus ensure that the legacy of SDU, its values and operating principles, continue through the private sector. While accreditation is voluntary, there are aspects that we cannot compromise on, as we need to protect the interests of all stakeholders. This explains the robust, yet realistic requirements that have been incorporated into the framework.'"
Benefits for All
For accredited dating agencies, they will enjoy:
i. Recognition as a competent, credible and professional company;
ii. Access to SDU's publicity channels to promote services to SDU members and singles at large;
iii. Preferential screening rates for marriage records at the Registry of Marriages and the Registry of Muslim Marriages;
iv. Preferred vendor status to provide dating services to singles in the public sector; and
v. Funding and support for training and development.
Similarly, accredited dating practitioners will enjoy:
i. Preferred employment candidate status for dating agencies; and
ii. Funding for continuous training and development.
Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, Chairperson of the Accreditation Council for the Dating Industry, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, said: '"Traditionally, matchmaking is entrusted to family members and relatives. With a third-party dating practitioner and agency coming in to play this role, there is the issue of trust. However, with accreditation and the SDU Trust Mark, singles will be able to make informed choices, have confidence that their personal data are kept confidential, and that activities will be innovative and of high quality."
The Road to Accreditation
Before dating agencies and practitioners can apply for accreditation, they have to understand the Code of Professional Conduct and the Criteria and Standards of the accreditation framework.
To this end, SDU has collaborated with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to develop competency standards under their Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework.
The WSQ standards can then be used to develop competency-based training programmes to equip them with the relevant knowledge, skills and preferred attributes to deliver quality services to singles.
The training courses will be provided by the Social Service Training Institute (SSTI) and are expected to begin its run in November 2007.
Upon completion of the required modules, applicants can check if they comply with the Code of Professional Conduct and the Criteria and Standards. When they are ready, they can submit their applications to the Accreditation Council through SDU.
An assessment, which forms part of the recommendation report to the Accreditation Council, will take place.
Areas of consideration include how the business is run on a day-to-day basis, whether service quality evaluation plans, feedback mechanisms, and training and development programmes are in place.
Practitioners will need to commit to the continual upgrading of skills and knowledge.
Upon approval by the Accreditation Council, dating agencies and practitioners will be awarded the SDU Trust Mark. They will also be listed in two national registries that SDU will be setting up - Registry of Dating Agencies ( and Registry of Dating Practitioners (
Singles should see the first batch of accredited dating agencies and practitioners by early 2008.
Said Associate Professor Straughan: '"To ensure consistent adherence to criteria and standards, accredited agencies and practitioners will first be re-assessed after two years, and thereafter on a three-yearly basis. What is important to us is that the interest of singles is protected at all times, and that agencies will appreciate the need to uphold the Code of Professional Conduct and adhere to the criteria and standards. We want a win-win situation - where the agencies will earn the trust of singles and singles in turn, have credible and trusted sources to turn to for opportunities to meet a partner.'"
Interested dating agencies and practitioners can register their interest in the accreditation framework with SDU at 1800-8383988.
More information on the accreditation framework can also be found on the SDU website at

Source: Media Release 19 Jul 2007

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