Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45


Anupam Hazra

Social work grew out of humanitarian and democratic ideals, and its values are based on respect for the equality, worth, and dignity of all people. Since its beginnings over a century ago, social work practice has focused on meeting human needs and developing human potential. Human rights and social justice serve as the motivation and justification for social work action. In solidarity with those who are disadvantaged, the profession strives to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people in order to promote social inclusion. Social work profession addresses the barriers, inequities and injustices that exist in society. Its mission is to help people to develop their full potential, enrich their lives, and prevent dysfunction. Professional social work is focused on problem solving and change. As such, social workers are change agents in society and in the lives of the individuals, families and communities they serve. It responds to crises and emergencies as well as to everyday personal and social problems. Social work utilizes a variety of skills, techniques, and activities consistent with its holistic focus on persons and their environments. Social work interventions range from primarily person-focused psychosocial processes to involvement in social policy, planning and development. These include counseling, clinical social, social work, group work, social pedagogical work, and family treatment and therapy as well as efforts to help people obtain services and resources in the community. Interventions also include agency administration, community organization and engaging in social and political action to impact social policy and economic development. The holistic focus of social work is universal, but the priorities of social work practice will vary from country to country and from time to time depending on cultural, historical, and socio-economic conditions.

    Social workers attempt to relieve and prevent hardship and suffering. They have a responsibility to help individuals, families, groups and communities through the provision and operation of appropriate services and by contributing to social planning. They work with, on behalf of, or in the interests of people to enable them to deal with personal and social difficulties and obtain essential resources and services. Their work may include, but is not limited to, interpersonal practice, group work, community work, social development, social action, policy development, research, social work education and supervisory and managerial functions in these fields. The field of practice for professional Social Worker is expanding day by day.


Field of Practice for Professional Social Workers
·  Addiction / Substance Abuse
·  Child Welfare
·  Clinical / Mental Health
·  Correctional Institutions/ Prisons
·  Child Protection Services
·  Counseling & Therapy
·  Consultancy Services
·  Community Development
·  Elderly Care
·  Environment
·  Family Welfare and Planning
·  Human Resource Management
·  Industrial Development
·  Medical Social Work
·  Mental Health
·  Mental Retardation
·  Management of Social Services
·  Mother & Child Health
·  Policy & Planning Services
·  Poverty eradication
·  People with Special Needs
·  Rehabilitation of Offenders
·  Rural & Urban Development
·  Relationship Problems
·  School Social Work
·  Social Research & Program Evaluation Service
·  Social Work Administration & Policy
·  Social Work Education & Research
·  Social development
·  Working with People with Disabilities
·  Youth Work etc.

    Social Work as profession in India has already passed its infancy long back and in the last few decades it has emerged as one of the most demanding profession in India. In India a person – holding a Bachelor (BSW) or Master (M.A in Social Work/MSW) degree in Social Work – is generally considered a professional social worker. As far as Indian scenario is concerned professional social workers can be found in direct practice in administrative, management and

policy planning positions in various Government and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as well as in government ministries. Both Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have a lot to offer, if you are willing to work hard and in any given conditions. International organizations too are socially aware and hence a number of opportunities are available in international social work. Industrial and commercial units too are looking to hire social workers. A degree or diploma in Social Work is creating a large number opportunities for the millions of Indian youth in various sectors.

Designations enjoyed by Social Work Professionals in different employment sectors
Governmental Sector
·  Lecturer/Professor
·  Director
·  Research Officer/Researcher
·  Welfare/Development Officer (like Child/Youth/Women/Labour etc.)
·  Community Development Officer
·  Jail Probationary/Welfare Officer
·  Urban Planners etc.
Non-Governmental Sector
·  Project Director
·  Program Director
·  Program Officer
·  Program Coordinator
·  Assistant Coordinator
·  Program Assistant
·  Project Officer
·  Community Mobilizer 
·  Program Manager
·  Block/District/State/Zonal/Regional Coordinator
·  Counselor
·  Social Scientist
·  Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
·  Research Officer/Researcher
·  MIS Coordinator
·  Area Manager
·  Fund Raiser
·  Social Worker
·  Supervisor
·  Resource Mobiliser
·  Training Coordinator
·  Development Professional
·  Consultant
·  Probation Officer
·  Psychiatric Social Worker
·  School Social Worker
·  Sociologist
·  Vocational Rehabilitation
·  Counselor etc.
·  Manager
   (HR/Personnel/Welfare etc.)
·  Executive Trainee
·  Labor Welfare Officer
·  Personnel Officer etc.
Corporate Sector
·  Manager
·  Executive Trainee
·  Community Development Officer
·  Social Development Officer
·  Rural Development Officer
·  Social Welfare Officer etc.

    There are three general categories or levels of intervention for Social Work professionals. The first is “Macro” social work which involves society or communities as a whole. This type of social work practice would include policy forming and advocacy on a national or international scale. The second level of intervention is described as “Mezzo” social work practice. This level would involve work with agencies, small organizations, and other small groups. This practice would include policy making within a social work agency or developing programs for a particular neighbourhood. The final level is the “Micro” level that involves service to individuals and families.

    Social workers help people to overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life. Social Work is a profession that serves individuals, families, and communities who seek preventative and rehabilitative interventions for an improved quality of life. Focused on social and emotional development within the social environment, the scope of social work is national and international. The profession is social justice and action oriented.

    Adopting a holistic approach and forging therapeutic relationships are not unique to social work. What makes the role of the social worker distinct is that it combines both. The social worker seeks to understand the person’s entire situation (the holistic approach) and to work with this. Developing an effective helping relationship with people who use services is central to the role of the social worker in order to ensure better outcomes. Social workers need sufficient time to combine knowledge of skills and values and demonstrate the effective listening, respect and sensitive engagement which this involves. The ability to form and maintain such relationships can be eroded by a workload which exceeds resources, by over management of risks and by increasing expectations from people who use services of the social worker’s capacity to meet their needs.  

Prospect for professional social workers in development sectors:
    At present the development sector is largely controlled and managed by the welfare or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)–who are doing the pioneer work towards the overall development of the society. A person with a degree (preferably a Master degree) in Social Work is highly preferred in developmental agencies and NGOs. In other words, it can be said that NGO sectors as well as the development sectors are being dominated by the professional social workers. As far as the salary of a professional social worker in development sector (in India) is concerned – it varies from organization to organization. Generally it is negotiated at the time of interview. As salary is negotiable in development sector, likewise flexibility also exists in the recruitment process. Sometimes it is also observed that a person gets recruitment in a particular position – though he/she has not fulfilled the minimum requirements. Percentage of marks in M.S.W hardly matters in recruitment-process of development sector; 50% to 55% marks in M.S.W is enough to get a good job in a reputed organization. What does matter – is relevant working experiences, possession of suitable technical skills of project management, sound knowledge managing NGO administration (see table 3) etc; sometimes the reputation of the academic institution – from where the applicant obtained the degree in Social Work – is taken into consideration by the recruiting organizations. Students completing M.S.W from institutes like TISS, XISS, Delhi University – are generally preferred and get higher salary at the beginning.  

Skills Required for a Professional Social Worker
·  Preparing Project Proposal
·  Preparing Management Information System (MIS)
·  Preparing Project Implementa-tion Plan (PIP)
·  Managing and coordinating project at district/state/national level
·  Program monitoring & evaluation
·  Report writing and presentation
·  Preparation of monthly plan and budget
·  Coordinating and liasioning with district and state administration, other stake holder and partner organizations
·  Organizing training, workshops, seminars etc.
·  Developing Information Education Communication (I.E.C) materials
·  Documentation and case studies
·  Team management
·  Facilitation and people mobilization
·  Doing long-hour field work and extensive travelling
·  Managing and coordinating projects at state and district level 
·  Positive work attitude
·  Integrity and honesty
·  Doing long-hour field work in adverse situation
·  Have interpersonal communication skills
·  Have proficiency on the computer
·  Knowledge of community resources etc.

    Most of International NGOs have a specified pay structure for different positions – For entering into these organizations – at least three to five years’ prior working experiences in a reputed developmental organiza-tion is necessary.

Some of the Premier Universities/Institutes - Conducting Social Work Courses
·  Assam University, Silchar (Assam)
·  Agra University (U.P)
·  Amravati University (Amravati)
·  Andhra University, Waltair (AP)
·  Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (UP)
·  Bharathiar University (Coimbatore)
·  Banaras Hindu University, Banaras (UP)
·  Bundelkhand University, Jhansi (UP)
·  Christ University (Bangalore)
·  Chaudhry Charan Singh University, Meerut (UP)
·  College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan (Mumbai)
·  Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (Indore)
·  Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi (Delhi)
·  Dr. R.M.L Avadh University, Faizabad (UP)
·  Guru Ghasidas University (Chhattisgarh)
·  Gujarat Vidyapeth, Ahmedabad (Gujarat)
·  Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University (W.B)
·  Institute of Social Sciences, Dr B. R Ambedkar University, Agra (UP)
·  Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
·  Jamia Millia Islamia University, Jamia Nagar (New Delhi)
·  Jain Vishva Bharti Institute, Ladnoon (Rajasthan)
·  Kashi Vidyapith,Varanasi (U.P)
·  Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra (Haryana)
·  Kanpur University, Kanpur (UP)
·  Madurai Kamaraj University
·  M S University, Baroda
·  Madras School of Social Work, University of Madras (Chennai)
·  M.S.S College, Nagpur (Maharashtra)
·  Mangalore University (Mangalore)
·  Marathwada University, Aurangabad
·  Nagpur University (Nagpur)
·  Punjab University, Patiala (Punjab)
·  Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (Kerala)
·  Rajasthan Vidyapeth, Udaipur (Rajasthan)
·  Sri Venkateshwara University (Tirupati)
·  Sri Padmavati Mahila Visva Vidhyalay (Tirupati)
·  Sri Hari Singh Gaur University (MP)
·  Shivaji University, Vidyanagar, Kolhapur 
·  Sri Padmavathi Mahila, Vishavidyalayam, Tirupathi
·  Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (Maharashtra)
·  University of Lucknow, Lucknow (U.P)
·  University of Bombay (Maharastra)
·  University of Puna (Maharastra)
·  Utkal University (Orissa)
·  Vikram University,Ujjain (MP)
·  Vidya Sagar University (W.B)
·  Visva Bharati Unversity (W.B) etc.
(The list is indicative only) 


    Professional social workers are found in every facet of community life—in old age homes, orphanages, schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, prisons, corporations and in numerous public and private agencies that serve individuals and families in need. Social work is not just about doing good deeds and helping the under-privileged. Over a period of time, it has evolved into a profession. Correctly it is not a ‘conventional’ career. But with issues of disability, drug misuse, poverty, mental ill health, problems associated with aging etc. rising constantly, social work has become a vital need of our society today. If you are willing to take up a profession for emotional fulfillment and if your purpose of working is not just financial, this would be the ideal career for you.  

The Author is Assistant Professor in Department of Social Work at Assam (Central) University, Silchar-788011, Assam.  email:

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