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There is a rising demand for social workers worldwide

Saturday , 05 March 2016

Social work is a respected profession and there is a growing demand for professionals in this field of work

Social worikers

Often regarded as agents of societal change, the role of social workers is evolving across the world, with each passing day. Emanating from humanitarian ideals, social work is primarily based on equality of all people. Therefore, its primary focus is on meeting human needs and developing human potential. In simple words, the job of a social worker is to alleviate the disadvantageous and in some cases, alienated individuals, groups and societies for enrichment of their lives.

According to Anupam Hazra, Assistant Professor with Department of Social Work, Assam University, “The profession of social work strives to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people, in order to promote social inclusion. It addresses the barriers, inequities and injustices that exist in society.” He further added, “Professionally, the job in social work, is to solve problems thorough a variety of skills, techniques and activities, consistent with its holistic focus on persons and their environment.”

Job of a social worker

Social workers attempt to relieve and prevent hardship and suffering. They have the responsibility to help individuals, families, groups and communities through the provision and operation of appropriate services and by contributing to social planning.

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In many ways, a social worker is a bridge between the state-granted fundamental rights and individuals, who are unaware of them. Their ever expanding work may include, but is not limited to, interpersonal practice, group work, community work, social development, social action, policy development, research, social work education and supervisory and managerial functions in these fields.

It is imperative to point out that unlike the days gone by, social work is not restricted to a handful of well-off men and women, who could take up the profession due to their financial surplus. Many young aspirants from middle-class are taking up social work as a profession, despite multiple challenges.

Perhaps, one reason behind this, is the escalating complexities in relationships because of inter-ethnic, inter-racial, sectarian and other fissures in societies, across the world. Undoubtedly, the main aim of the social workers remains the development of society, by providing assistance to deprived people and to those in need of it.

To sum it up, social workers try to prevent social problems caused by poverty, unemployment, inadequate health and education facilities, alcoholism, drugs abuse and so on.

Career prospects

It is because of these reasons, the scope of social work is very wide, as there is a dire need for people who can provide help to the disadvantaged members of the society. Not only does the job needs patience, but a great deal of compassion as well, to share the sufferings of others.

Fortunately, it is now more than an occupation of the idle and is getting highly professionalised. There is a wide range of fields in which a social worker can provide assistance. Some of them are in the areas of: Addiction of all types, Child Welfare, Mental Health, Prisons, Counseling & Therapy, Elderly Care, Environment, Family Welfare and Planning, Human Resource Management, Mother & Child Health, Poverty eradication, Rehabilitation of Offenders, Rural & Urban Development, Relationship Problems, People with Disabilities, Youth Work, Unemployment, inadequate Health facilities, etc.

Some of the designations enjoyed by government-employed social workers are Lecturers, Researchers, Welfare Officers, Community Development Officers, Jail Probationary Officers, Urban Planners and so on.

However, it is in the private sector that the real opportunity in social work lies, with every corporate house and other companies, investing considerably in social work.

Importantly, non-governmental organizations – NGOs – both national and international – are an important segment in this field and are responsible in offering a major chunk of jobs in both, urban and rural areas. One may choose to join international NGOs like Amnesty International, Oxfam and Green Peace, as well and deal with the emerging problems related to justice and environment.

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Eligibility and top institutes

Social Work, as a profession in India, has already passed its infancy and in the last few decades, has emerged as one of the most demanding professions. The minimum requirement for a professional position in this field is a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (B.S.W./ B.A), which is a three-year course, open for all those who have passed Class XII  examination or its equivalent.

For applying to obtain a Master’s degree course (M.S.W./ M.A), a graduate in any discipline is eligible. Time duration of the course is two years. Students with a background in social work, psychology, social science, sociology or any other related field get preference. For higher studies there are also M. Phil and Ph.D programmes in this discipline, offered by many top institutions of the country.

Besides educational qualifications, a career in social work requires certain personality traits like compassion for the underprivileged and an urge to help them, besides the capacity to work hard, under far-from-perfect working conditions, patience and dedication. Importantly, more than the percentage of marks achieved, what matters most in this profession, is working experience, possession of suitable technical skills of project management, etc.

Several institutes offer degrees and diplomas in social work, after which permanent positions can be obtained in organisations. The leading ones are, The Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Delhi School of Social Work, Christ University, Bangalore, College of Social Work in Mumbai, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Madras School of Social Work, Mangalore University, Loyola College of Social Sciences in Trivandrum.

Students completing M.S.W from institutes like TISS, XISS, Delhi University – are generally preferred and get a higher starting salary.

Remuneration

Remuneration in this field, mostly depends upon the organisation in which one works, experience & background and the area of their work. Though, there is no fixed pay scale for this profession, one could initially start at Rs 10,000 to 12,000 per month, depending on the organisation. Remuneration packages offered by Corporate Houses are much higher, when compared to the government agencies.

Those working with NGOs and government projects start their careers with low salary, but growth prospects in such organisations, are steady and one can rise rapidly through the ranks.

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