A massive shortfall in qualifiedâ€š practising social workers across South Africa has resulted in NGOs trying to up-skill in order to pick up the slack.
In the past five years over 3â€š500 people from 300 non-governmental organisations have received capacity building training from the Community Chest donor organisationâ€š in areas from from basic organisational development to courses on project management and financial literacy.
The training programmeâ€š which includes ten modules and receives applicants as young as 16 years oldâ€š is also aimed at uplifting NGOs by providing them with the skills they need to access funding and operate effectively.
There are currently 30â€š271 social workers registered with the South African Council for Social Services Professionâ€š but not all are practising.
According to the capacity building programme managerâ€š Yumna Martinâ€š the delivery of basic social welfare services in South Africa is hindered by a huge shortfall in social worker numbersâ€š estimated to be around 77%.
â€œIn this contextâ€š the work of NGOs becomes critical to fill the gap and provide support to those in needâ€šâ€ Martin said.
â€œThe training of NGO practitioners means that social workers are supported in their work due to increasing levels of managementâ€š governance and service delivery.
â€œThe capacity building programme strives to provide South Africaâ€™s NGOs with the skills and the resources they need to flourish. The training is intended to encourage these organisations so that they can offer effective support to the most vulnerable members of our society.â€
The NGOs being trained offer a wide range of services across the social development spectrumâ€š including child and family careâ€š substance abuse rehabilitationâ€š mental healthcare and youth development.
According to the National Development Planâ€š South Africa requires 55â€š000 social services practitionersâ€š including social workersâ€š by 2030.
Social development department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said 571 new social workers had been employed for the current financial yearâ€š but the department is still â€œexperiencing challenges in the absorption of graduatesâ€.
â€œThe department is continuously engaging National Treasury to lobby funding for the absorption of social workers and provision of tools of the trade to enable them to execute their duties effectivelyâ€šâ€ she said.
Oliphant said the department was working with other government departments to come up with an â€œintegrated strategyâ€ for the employment of social workers.