Bursaries for aspirant social workers

first_img16 September 2011The Department of Social Development has provided nearly 5 000 scholarships to students to pursue social work studies at various universities around the country.The move comes at a time when experts say the demand for educated social workers far outstrips the number of graduates and the existing pool of professionals in South Africa.University of Cape Town Professor Viviene Taylor said that some estimates projected that the country needed 55 000 educated social workers.“South Africa’s social and economic context is characterised by a youthful population, high unemployment, chronic poverty and high levels of violence against women and children, rising substance abuse and the devastating impacts of HIV/Aids,” Taylor said.“We need innovative ways of responding to both the supply of social workers and to the increasing social disintegration that exists in the most deprived communities in South Africa.”Workers needed in rural areasIn a recent written reply in Parliament, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said they were encouraging high school learners in rural areas to apply for the scholarship programme in order to address shortages there.In April, before her budget vote speech in Parliament, the minister decried the shortage of social workers in the country. At the time, she said she would call back retired social workers to assist the younger generation.In her reply, Dlamini said her department would continue recruiting retired social workers as well as implementing the Recruitment and Retention of Social Workers programme that was developed in 2004.The department would intensify the “recruitment, training and employment of social workers and child and youth workers to deliver services that do not require intense professional social work intervention.”This would ease the burden of workload on social workers.Shortage of accredited service providersDlamini said there were 16 391 social workers employed in both government and non-government organisations across the country to address welfare needs of children as highlighted in the Children’s Act.These services, she said, ranged from prevention and treatment of substance abuse to crime prevention and HIV and Aids support.“Due to the skill shortage related to social workers, the majority of social workers does not specialise in services to children but are expected to provide generic social work to any clients that require services.“While it is acknowledged that there is demand to train more social auxiliary workers, there is, however, a shortage of accredited service providers responsible to train them,” Dlamini said.According to the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), currently there are 21 accredited service providers, 50% of them in Gauteng province.The department, along with the SA Council for Social Services Profession (SACSSP) and universities, is working on plans to increase the number of accredited service providers.Source: BuaNewslast_img

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