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MSD called on to reverse decision

MSD called on to reverse decision to cancel social workers study scheme

Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) is calling on the Ministry of Social Development to reverse its decision to can the NGO Study Awards for social workers.

The Ministry of Social Development has recently notified SSPA that the NGO Study Awards scheme had been discontinued. The fund, just over $1 million annually, has provided financial support that assists unqualified social workers to study for a social work qualification.

SSPA national manager Brenda Pilott said, “It seems almost certain that there will be a law change to make registration of social workers mandatory and in most cases this will require a 4 year bachelor’s degree. So it is inexplicable that the government has chosen this moment to cancel the NGO Study Awards scheme for social workers.”

“After a decade of voluntary registration, there are still several thousand practicing social workers who are not registered, and many do not have the qualification required.

“SSPA supports mandatory registration but the scale of the challenge of making the transition to a fully-qualified and registered profession should not be under-estimated. The challenges are especially acute in the NGO sector where some 2600 social workers – more than half the NGO social work workforce – are not registered. A good number are unqualified or under-qualified.”

“NGO social workers are baffled by this decision when so many need to study or register.”

“This scheme was a valuable one that helped mid-career social workers get a qualification. Taking time off work to get a four year degree is unrealistic for many, without financial assistance. The awards scheme gave a good return on investment. Cancelling it at the time when mandatory registration is likely to be introduced makes no sense at all,” said Brenda Pilott.

Research by Massey University shows that the scheme has been effective. SSPA has written to the Ministry asking them to reverse the decision.

Ends

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