Why do I continue to have a problem with the Frontline Social Work program? There are three reasons:
- People who go through the entire Social Work training are telling you they are not prepared for frontline work. Why would you then think it would be appropriate to give professionals a shortened training and send them into the field? Have you considered how they are going to be met on the ground when they get into practice? I know there is a support element but if the support is inadequate to Newly Qualified Social Workers, how would these new frontline Social Workers be any different. You’re not helping the profession!
- You’re not helping the profession. In this so called age of austerity the powers that be prioritise brand new costly initiatives instead of investing in improving what they already have. Reinvesting in the current Social Workers to improve their skills and make their practice more robust. Reinvest in Newly Qualified Social Workers so they are getting the support they need to be able to be strong practitioners who are able to challenge appropriately, hypothesize, gather evidence and accurately analyse the circumstances and the information they have gathered. This entire program is counterintuitive. You have an educational program that has been deemed inadequate. You have newly qualified social workers who cannot find jobs and your answer is to take professionals, run them through something like a 9 week program and then throw them into a field where the people that have taken 2-3 years to train are being told they could not go? I’m sorry. I find this completely offensive. Personally and on behalf of the profession to which I have committed myself. This is in no way a reflection on the people who would like to make the switch into Social Work. When I did my degrees there were career changers. The point is they were going through the program with me, not getting some fast track into employment. Let’s not forget the struggle we are having trying to legitimize the profession as experts on the work that we do. How does this help that fight?
- Social Work is meant to be a holistic profession, incorporating knowledge and techniques from a range of sources. This program isn’t training Social Workers. It is training child protection case workers, at most case managers. Stop calling them Social Workers. No offense to anyone in the program, but I’m sorry I can’t take a nine week (or however long this training is) training and call myself a scientist, or a doctor, or a lawyer. Why do people continue to disrespect our profession by trying to minimise what we do and how we do it? Then on the other hand tell us we’re not doing enough. Well, guess what? When the profession isn’t built on stable ground, and you’re not providing those coming into the profession with a realistic view of it, what they are going to encounter, or with the relevant support system to not only survive but to thrive, you’re going to have a disparate profession that looks confused and unsure of itself. And while we have individual professionals who are able to inject confidence and experience into the profession these aren’t profession wide sentiment.
I think it is commendable that people want to help but I think it is completely disrespectful to us, the profession and the people we help to think you can do our job after a few weeks of training. I think it is utterly disgraceful that the government continues to condemn Social Workers when things go wrong, but think it is absolutely ok to take a short cut in training new ones. I am sure the program will turn out some who thrive in the environment and again, this isn’t a personal jab at those who are taking this journey. It is an utter frustration with the nature of Social Work training at the moment.