The Sunday Times says

Giving social work a boost

The doubling in the number of social workers over four years is a welcome development, given the less than favourable status of these professionals at one time. Now, career paths and salary guidelines, formulated by the National Council of Social Service, are attracting more fresh university graduates. They can earn $3,040 a month while master social workers obtain $7,640, and heads of agencies draw a five-digit monthly salary. That is a far cry from the limited resources of the social workers and volunteers of yore.

The rise of professional social workers might prompt lay activists to take a step back and to "leave it to the professionals". That would be undesirable as all forms of social volunteerism will be needed as society ages. Also, the proportion of social workers here is still far short of the rate elsewhere - the United States, for example, has at least three times as many such workers.

As more people enter the profession here via formal training pathways and engage each other in associations, some fresh issues might arise. For example, members of the public would want to know how they shape their professional ideologies. Do they view problems as largely of a personal and interpersonal nature, or do they stress the mutual influence of individuals and their environment, or do they see issues springing largely from social structures and other wider ills?

Their collective outlook is relevant as it could shape social strategies and lead to demands for specific resources. Support for individuals could be given mainly to help them help themselves or state and community resources could be directed at correcting social imbalances. The profession should help clarify such approaches as it matures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Giving social work a boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe