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Choosing a Career Path in Social Work

Introduction

In recent times there has been an outburst of streams in the educational and professional fields in the contemporary world. There are a wide range of professional careers that a graduate student can now consider. Out of them all, I wish to pursue a career in social work when I graduate. The reason I want to pursue this particular path are many. Firstly, it is one of my areas of interest to be working in the non-profit sector. I have always been interested in volunteering for non-profits and when I did that for the first time, I realised that I want to affect economic and political change in the lives of the less privileged for sustainable development of these groups. Secondly, a 2020 report revealed that the non-profit sector has been growing significantly for the past 10 years, mostly because of the increasing awareness of people (PNP Staffing Group, 2016).

The following paper will further elucidate on the scope, impact on job market and the future of the non-profit sector in the job market, as well as look at the kind of skills which will be required to undertake a job in that particular sector. For the purposes of that, I’ve done primary research by contacting a relative who fulfils a managerial role at the non-profit Oxfam and secondary research was done by

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Analysis and Application

The first part of this section will analyse the non-profit sector in the present times and job market and the second section will look at the industry of non-profit in general from the perspective of a job seeker and understand what are the qualifications which are required to work in this sector. For these sections, the researcher spoke to Amanda Lane, who works as a Project Manager at a particular office for Oxfam.

2.1 Social Work Industry: Opportunity and Trend

Since the turn of the century, the definition of social work has changed greatly. It can be understood as operations to remedy barriers to social, educational and physical development of individuals or it could also be understood as attempts to mobilise marginalised and/or disadvantaged people for their own benefit (Sewpaul and Jones, 2005).

Reports by Statista (2020) suggest that while steady, the growth in the social work sector in the UK has steadily been on the rise. The number of jobs in the non-profit sector in the UK has risen by 19% since the year 2009, which means that there is a significant amount of economic investment which is being done in the particular sector (Brindle, 2017). A 2017 report by Skills for Care reveal that there has been a significant investment of 41.8 billion pounds a year to the adult social care sector, thus making it a good place for employment. Speaking with the researcher, Lane suggested that the non-profit sector is getting more and more specialised and thus there is a upsurge in need for talented individuals who may be trained in fields which are not even related directly to social work. Non-profit sectors in the last few years has assumed more of a role of social care providers than policy changers or governmental pressures (Minkoff and Powell, 2006). A profitable aspect of the sustainability of non-profit operations, however, come from the fact tat non-profits have several arenas of financing, where different non-profit organisations have different sources of income (Clifford, 2016; Chikoto and Neely, 2014; Backus and Clifford, 2013). According to Lane, Oxfam acquires its financing majorly from fund-raising activities, either by the institution itself or by public individuals who do the fundraising for them (oxfam.org).

2.2 Skills and Knowledge Required for Employability in the Sector

There are a myriad of skill which are useful is one wants to find employment in this sector. Lane described that personal skills are paramount in the profession and elucidates empathy to be an important skill in this particular profession. This particular skill has also been described as the job seeking site Indeed as a pertinent skill in the industry. Other skills that has been described by the website as important for working in the sector are organizational skills, which help the individual in keeping track of the causes that the organization is involved in, communication skills to fruitfully work with clients and reach people with disabilities, time management skills in order to juggle multiple responsibilities successfully and critical thinking skills, in order to have a solution-oriented frame of mind and cohesively consider all aspects of a case. Lane describes that several of these skills are interconnected and the development of some of these skills may mean development of other skills as well. For example, the development of communication skills makes individuals better listeners, which in rerun increases their empathetic and critical thinking skills.

The Economist elucidates certain hard skills or educational qualifications which are needed to have a successful career in the non-profit sector, a marketing degrees will be useful for the organisation as organisations are always looking for people with marketing skills which come in useful when they are organising fund raising activities. Lane reiterates that a marketing degree background in an employee is a valuable knowledge as it helps organisations apply for grants through proposals and strategies. Other than that, a degree in social work is also a beneficial degree to pursue when seeking a job in the non-profit sector. Specialities in the educational sector of social work may consist of training to become a mental health assistant or welfare policy expert (collegegrad.com). Lane argues that if one wants to pursue this particular line, they can pursue an educational subject during their bachelor’s, like psychology or sociology and later pursue a masters in social work degrees.

Evaluation

The job vacancy I have identified is that of a social worker in the National Health Service (the description of which is included in the appendices). This is a graduate level job which will not only give me skills and experience of working in the industry of caring for people, but also enable to pursue my passion for social work in the care of people.

One of the modern revolutions in the healthcare industry is the emergence of the importance of integrating social care with medical care to in order to enable patients to have faster and healthier recoveries (Glasby, 2003). It is being recognised that post discharge, holistic care of a patient requires a holistic understanding of the needs and requirements of a patient, and that is generally very nuanced and complex (Bardsley et. al., 2010). Studies have found that integrating social care organisations with healthcare systems leads to facilitating faster discharges and better post discharge care, especially in the older geriatric population (Richards and Coast, 2003). Haddock (1991) argues that planning of discharges and other decisions regarding the health and well being of patients has to be done in a multidisciplinary approach because of how nuanced the requirements are since understanding their requirements is challenging because often adults are unable to articulate or comprehend precisely what they want or what is good for them.

I believe this job is well suited to my strengths because I believe I possess good communication skills and this job requires communicating with adults in a perceptive way to not only understand their concerns, needs and demands but also persuasive communication skills to enable me to convince and negotiate with the adults with regards to the best plan forward for them. It has been my desire to make a difference in the lives of people, and this job also gives me the opportunity to live my passion. It is my belief that the experience I shall muster and a comprehensive understanding of the legislation that governs adult social care that this job experience will offer alongside the awareness of practice to safeguard the physical, mental, social and emotional health of adults shall stand me in very good stead for my future career.

Furthermore, the job also offers career development prospects, and several on the job apprenticeship schemes which enable a clear and credible career progression plan. At this stage in my career, I anticipate the need to involve myself not only in the several apprentice schemes offered but also other courses and/or jobs that will boost my skillset and resume. To that effect, having a job like this which offer flexible work hours whilst maintaining competitive pay is also important for my long term vision.

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In the long run, the integration of social care workers and organisations to the health care plans of individuals is a burgeoning field and demand for professionals with industry experience will only ever be on the rise. Thus this aligns with my long term vision.

References

Growing, N., 2021. NonProfit Sector Staffing Is On The Rise with Salaries Growing. [online] PRWeb. Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Sewpaul, V. and Jones, D., 2005. Global standards for the education and training of the social work profession. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14(3), pp.218-230.

Statista. 2021. Social workers UK 2020 | Statista. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

the Guardian. 2021. Social care: a ‘hidden engine’ for economic growth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Skillsforcare.org.uk. 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Minkoff, D.C. and Powell, W.W., 2006. Nonprofit mission: Constancy, responsiveness, or deflection. The nonprofit sector: A research handbook, 2, pp.591-611.

Clifford, D., 2017. Charitable organisations, the great recession and the age of austerity: longitudinal evidence for England and Wales. Journal of Social policy, 46(1), pp.1-30.

Chikoto, G.L. and Neely, D.G., 2014. Building nonprofit financial capacity: The impact of revenue concentration and overhead costs. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(3), pp.570-588.

Backus, P. and Clifford, D., 2013. Are big charities becoming more dominant?: cross‐sectional and longitudinal perspectives. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 176(3), pp.761-776.

Oxfam International. 2021. Our finances and accountability | Oxfam International. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Navigator, T., 2021. What top nonprofits look for in job applicants. [online] ExecEd Navigator. Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Indeed.com. 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Projections, C. and Social Workers: Jobs, S., 2021. Social Workers: Jobs, Career, Salary and Education Information. [online] Collegegrad.com. Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2021].

Glasby, J., 2003. Hospital discharge: integrating health and social care. Radcliffe Publishing.

Bardsley, M., Dixon, J. and Georghiou, T., 2010. Social care and hospital use at the end of life. London: Nuffield Trust.

Haddock KS. Characteristics of effective discharge planning programs for the frail elderly. Journal of Gerontological Nursing 1991; 17: 10–14

Richards, S., & Coast, J. (2003). Interventions to improve access to health and social care after discharge from hospital: a systematic review. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, 8(3), 171–179.

Appendix 1
Job Advertisement
Job Advertisement
Appendix 2
Interview Log

Interviewee: Amanda Lane Employing Organisation: Oxfam Interviewee Name: Interviewee Institution:

Day 1: Interviewee was informed of the purpose of the interview. She gave consent to have her words recorded and used for the purposes of this interview. Interviewee described her work as managing projects in the branch where she worked, asked to keep the branch anonymous. Interviewer described the social work sector and spoke about the conditions in which social work sector works. Interviewer spoke about the qualifications which are needed for a successful career in the social work sector and spoke about the general industry of non-profit.

Day 2: The interviewer was again informed of their rights and their consent was taken. The interviewer was asked questions about the nature of jobs in the non-profit sector, especially in context with the changing nature of the non-profit sector in the contemporary times. The interview was concluded with further discussion on the soft skills needed for getting a job in the non-profit sector.

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