22_02_06

Social work as a career

Social work as a career

To choose social work as a career, a man or woman must have one over-powering desire which is to serve mankind. 


This idea of service stems originally from nineteenth century England when many enlightened people, Octavia Hall, Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale among them, left their own comfortable homes and worked in different capacities with the poverty-stricken, often sick and very large population of London.

 By doing this, they believed that they could greatly improve the lives and lot of these poor people. These early social workers were neither trained nor paid.

Today, although the desire to serve must still be paramount, the ret is very different. All paid forms of social work both in the Far East, in America and in Europe demand some kind of training and the social worker today is a highly skilled individual. 

Firstly, a diploma in the social sciences or a University degree in Sociology or another allied subject is required. Both the diploma and the degree include studies of Economics, Philosophy and Psychology, all of which are subjects dealing with people and society. 'Sociology' means the science of society. 

After this two or three year course, a further year's practical training is required. The prospective Hospital Almoner, Housing Officer, Probation Officer or Child Care Officer will have to spend a year in a hospital or an office, during which time, he will receive little or no pay. 

He has, during this practical training to master the routine of the office. Very often, a social worker has a shorthand/typing or clerical qualifications as well, since this is relevant to his work.

He will also be required to 'listen to' and to observe interviews; to learn to elicit the right information and to present it in logical and acceptable form. Visiting is an important art of the practical training, for the whole of a social worker's life is spent dealing with and 'handling' people. 

Such visits are highly trained and skilled procedures. It is not a question of 'dropping in for tea.' The people to be visited are often hostile, sometimes illiterate and usually inarticulate. To deal with them, to guide and sometimes to lead from wrong paths to right ones is not easy and the social worker must be highly trained in the art of dealing with people, before he can accomplish anything.

 At the end of this practical year, there is a written examination which is geared to the practical side of social work rather than to the theoretical. A knowledge or Rent Acts, of Landlord and Tenant relationships, even of drainage systems are things, a Housing Officer is expected to know.

A Hospital Almoner must have mastered the theory of National Health and of Hospital routines. legal procedure and the law are important in all social work and therefore, a study of the relevant law is required. After he has passed this final practical test, then the social worker is fully trained and qualified.

Both in Europe and the Far East, the Social Services are undertaken by a Government department. In England, most Social Services are under the Home Office or the Ministry of Health. In Singapore, the Department of Social welfare takes charge of them. 

This department is primarily responsible for administering the Publi Assistance scheme. It is also responsible for the T.B. Treatment allowance scheme. In addition, it provides children's centers, homes for children and young people and homes for the very old as well. 

It is responsible for the supervision and after care of adult offenders and juvenile delinquents; the protection and care of children and girls, the prevention of drug trafficking; housing and emergency relief for victims of flood, fire and similar services.

The opportunities for a social worker are many and varied, but in whatever branch he chooses, he will always be working with people -- with the sick, the old, the child, the delinquent or the unhappy and with all of them, he must show patience, understanding, love and desire to help. 

His rewards will be materially small, for on the whole, the social worker is not well paid. His real reward comes from knowing that he has helped people to find the right road through life and to live a more contented and balanced life.