A massive shortfall in qualified‚ 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 3‚500 people from 300 non-governmental organisations have received capacity building training from the Community Chest donor organisation‚ in areas from from basic organisational development to courses on project management and financial literacy.
The training programme‚ which includes ten modules and receives applicants as young as 16 years old‚ is also aimed at uplifting NGOs by providing them with the skills they need to access funding and operate effectively.
There are currently 30‚271 social workers registered with the South African Council for Social Services Profession‚ but not all are practising.
According to the capacity building programme manager‚ Yumna Martin‚ the delivery of basic social welfare services in South Africa is hindered by a huge shortfall in social worker numbers‚ estimated to be around 77%.
“In this context‚ the work of NGOs becomes critical to fill the gap and provide support to those in need‚” Martin said.
“The training of NGO practitioners means that social workers are supported in their work due to increasing levels of management‚ governance and service delivery.
“The capacity building programme strives to provide South Africa’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.”
The NGOs being trained offer a wide range of services across the social development spectrum‚ including child and family care‚ substance abuse rehabilitation‚ mental healthcare and youth development.
According to the National Development Plan‚ South Africa requires 55‚000 social services practitioners‚ including social workers‚ by 2030.
Social development department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said 571 new social workers had been employed for the current financial year‚ but the department is still “experiencing challenges in the absorption of graduates”.
“The 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 effectively‚” she said.
Oliphant said the department was working with other government departments to come up with an “integrated strategy” for the employment of social workers.