The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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This study forms part of a series of studies on professions and professional education being conducted by the HSRC's research programme on Education, Science & Skills Development. It follows a pilot study on medical doctors, published in 2006 entitled Doctors in a Divided Society: The profession and education of medical practitioners in South Africa.

Like the other studies in the series, this study involved developing an understanding of the professional milieu and professional labour market of social workers. As the implementers of government social policy, social work professionals have been at the forefront of grappling with the practicalities of the changes in focus, approach and methods of social security and social service delivery since 1994.

It examines developments in the education and training of social workers within the democratic dispensation, the most significant of which is the development of a national, standardised Bachelor of Social Work degree. The study also reveals that the dominant profile in student enrolment and graduation statistics has changed from white female to African female, and that enrolment has increased significantly.

However, the study also shows that graduation trends have been negative and losses due to emigration are an additional concern. Given the scarcity of these professionals against the demand for their services, understanding the factors that contribute to this picture are critical to effective intervention.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 280mm x 210mm (Soft Cover)
Pages : 256
ISBN 10 : 0-7969-2208-X
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2208-3
Publish Year : 2008
Rights : World Rights

The professional milieu and professional labour market of social workers in South Africa

  1. Towards an understanding of the profession and education of social workers
    Introduction
    Methodology
    Conclusion
  2. Professional milieu for social workers in South Africa
    History of the social work profession: An international overview
    Social welfare of the South African nation
    Key changes in the South African welfare system
    Effects of these changes on social work practice
    Governance, co-operation and co-ordination
    Other social service professions
    Image of social work
    Professional organisation
    Transferability of skills
    Conclusion
  3. Professional labour market for social workers in South Africa
    Demographics and distribution of registered social workers
    Demand for social workers and the factors fuelling demand
    Supply of social workers from the South African higher education system
    Higher education context of changes in social worker supply
    The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
    Conclusion

The impact of the changing context of social work practice and education: Findings from the case study universities

  1. The case study context
    Introducing the case study universities
    Introducing the departments of social work
    Conclusion
  2. Factors impacting on intake and output of social work graduates
    Choosing to study social work
    Intake of social work students
    Output: perceptions of the quality of social work graduates
    Throughput: Quantitative input versus output
    Throughput: Qualitative factors affecting graduate numbers and quality
    Conclusion
  3. Personal factors impacting on social work education and practice
    Language and culture
    Gender
    Driver's licenses and access to vehicles
    Career aspirations and opportunities
    Conclusion
  4. Conclusion and recommendations

Postscript: Developments between March 2006 and July 2007

References

Nicci Earle was previously a senior researcher in the Education, Science and Skills Development research programme at the HSRC and programme manager of the South African Automotive Benchmarking Club, as well as the HRD programme of the Durban Automotive Cluster, which are both industry-level competitiveness improvement initiatives administered by benchmarking and manufacturing analysts.

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