“The National Social Work Competency Framework, launched yesterday, charts the career development of social workers” (National Career Framework For Social Workers Launched, Valerie Koh).
The new National Social Work Competency Framework (NSWCF), which “charts the career development of social workers” (TODAY, Nov. 21) by specifying levels of proficiency and the corresponding job scopes, not only raises the profile of the sector, but can also increase levels of professionalism if support is secured from more organisations, and if the Steering Committee of 16 senior social workers can lead – and build upon – platforms for the sharing of resources as well as best practices. At the moment, hopes for six organisations to adopt the framework are modest, and should be expanded to benefit more social workers.
A joint initiative of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Health, the NSWCF articulates the core competencies of the professionals and how they may be applicable across sub-sectors. For a start, the Steering Committee could specify the number of organisations and social workers it is expecting to reach out to, and how – with evolving socio-economic needs – the knowledge and skills will be updated. Take-up rates are important in this regard. Moreover, for the framework to gain resonance within the industry, managers must be convinced to incorporate it into their human resource arrangements.
Figures on the turnover rates at these organisations as well as the movement of social workers can also provide insights. In addition to the complementarity of the new five-day training programme vis-à-vis existing endeavours by the National Council of Social Services, and the acknowledgement that core knowledge and skills can be enhanced through collaboration and competition. Greater research will be useful for the former, to ascertain the frequency of multi-disciplinary undertakings across and within organisations; for instance, how many cross-organisation projects – involving different beneficiaries – have materialised in the past?
For the latter, it would be reasonable to posit that the evaluation of social work professionals is not premised upon individual performance per se, but also on the outcomes of the organisations they work for. In this vein, the oft-cited concept of performance measurement and management should be emphasised, wherein non-profits keep track of the effectiveness of their programmes, and encourage evidence-based evaluations.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.