E SO­CIAL WORK­ERS?

Jamaica Gleaner - - YOUTH LINK - An­gela deFre­itas CON­TRIB­U­TOR

SO­CIAL WORK­ERS help peo­ple – as in­di­vid­u­als, in fam­i­lies, groups, or com­mu­ni­ties – to work their way through dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. Most of these prob­lems re­late to life chal­lenges and changes, com­mu­nity, fam­ily, chil­dren, and so­cial is­sues. Per­sons fall­ing into any of these cat­e­gories who are in touch with the right type of agency could prob­a­bly be put in touch with a so­cial worker to help them to work through the prob­lems that they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing to get them­selves back on track.

WHAT THE WORK IN­VOLVES

At some time dur­ing the work day, a so­cial worker may:

Con­duct in­ter­views with peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties in need of help

Help clients in ad­just­ing to changes and chal­lenges such as ill­ness, di­vorce, un­em­ploy­ment, old age, re­tire­ment, re­dun­dancy and other sit­u­a­tions

Re­spond to im­me­di­ate emer­gen­cies such as child abuse and men­tal health is­sues

Fol­lowup with clients to en­sure that they are mak­ing progress in im­prov­ing their sit­u­a­tion

IIIIRe­view ser­vices pro­vided to en­sure that they are ef­fec­tive and that needs are be­ing met.

Most so­cial work­ers find work with gov­ern­ment agen­cies re­lated to ar­eas such as health, ed­u­ca­tion, com­mu­nity devel­op­ment, hous­ing, polic­ing, com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, and oth­ers. Their work can vary de­pend­ing on the type of agency for which they work and the type of client. Clients may be peo­ple with ad­dic­tions, per­sons adopt­ing or fos­ter­ing a child, or the el­derly in need of as­sis­tance.

IWHO IS THIS CA­REER FOR?

This ca­reer is for some­one with great empathy for peo­ple with prob­lems. Com­pas­sion and the abil­ity to con­nect with a va­ri­ety of peo­ple from vary­ing back­grounds and sit­u­a­tions will be es­sen­tial. A suc­cess­ful so­cial worker must have good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills in or­der to lis­ten to, in­ter­pret, and un­der­stand client needs. Time-man­age­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tional skills be­come im­por­tant when doc­u­ment­ing client in­for­ma­tion, main­tain­ing client files, and sched­ul­ing time to meet the needs of all clients.

WHAT CAN I EARN?

Most jobs in the area of so­cial work are usu­ally gov­ern­ment or gov­ern­ment-agency re­lated, with lower-mi­dlevel salaries. Of course, higher de­grees will earn you a higher salary level. You will also earn great per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion in this ca­reer, which may make up for fi­nan­cial re­wards if this is truly your call­ing.

HOW DO I QUAL­IFY?

You will need a bach­e­lor’s and/or master’s de­gree in so­cial work. De­gree pro­grammes in­clude courses such as re­search tech­niques, so­ci­ol­ogy, be­havioural sciences, psy­chol­ogy, so­cial pol­icy, and sign lan­guage. Practicums are also in­cluded in the pro­grammes.

At the se­condary level, get a sound ed­u­ca­tion and in­clude so­ci­ol­ogy if pos­si­ble. To qual­ify for a de­gree pro­gramme, you may be asked to show ev­i­dence of com­mu­nity-ser­vice work, which you have done in or­der to prove your strong in­ter­est in this area.

WHO OF­FERS TRAIN­ING IN JA­MAICA?

This is a rel­a­tively easy pro­gramme to find at the ter­tiary level, with many univer­si­ties, teach­ers’ col­leges, and other in­sti­tu­tions of­fer­ing the pro­gramme.

Send us your com­ments on and sug­ges­tions about what you want to know more.

Read again for more on ex­cit­ing ca­reers for now and the fu­ture.

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