study of social service-related courses like bachelors in social
work (BSW) and master in social work (MSW) in various institutes.
The objective of most of the institutes offering these courses is
to " shape society with a social purpose". Moreover, the
number of flush-with-funds NGOs is on the rise and more and more
corporate houses are pumping money into all kinds of social projects.
Therefore, there is now a huge demand for qualified social workers.
"Due to a growing desire for 'corporate social responsibility',
MNCs are also recruiting social work graduates for the supervision
of their projects dedicated to social causes. For instance, the
Aditya Birla Group has welfare programmes for tis collieries and
mine workers," says Dr. Kumkum Bhattacharya, head of the department
of social work, Visva Bharati University, Sriniketan.
As an academic discipline, social work is closer to sociology, though
a lot of emphasis in is generally laid of fieldwork and community
projects. It is different from other professions in the sense that
it not only involves putting one's knowledge and skills to use,
but also involves applying personal values and ideals to the profession.
The essence of social work is working with people—individuals,
families, groups or communities—and helping them improve their
quality of life by making appropriate changes in their social circumstances.
"There are plenty of jobs in the fields of local democracy,
rural and urban community development; families, children and youth;
community and mental health; criminology and correctional social
work and social justice and governance," says Dr. Vimla Nadkarni,
dean of social work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),
The BSW programmes prepare graduates for entry level jobs. However,
it is always advisable to go for a masters degree for better career
opportunities. Admission to BSW courses at most of the institutes
is based on a written test and a personal interview. For a masters
course, you have to go for a written test, a group discussion and
a personal interview. Most students for BSW programmes, students
come from all sorts of backgrounds, including science and commerce.
Entry into a masters programme does not require a bachelors degree
in social work. But degree courses in psychology, biology, sociology,
economics and political science are generally recommended. Almost
all schools of social work in the county have training facilities,
leading to MPil and PhD in social work.
Social workers act in various capacities—mainly as counsellors
or educators— to help mobilise communities, manage their resources,
inform them about government schemes, and so on. Then there is the
option of setting up your own NGO, for which you need an experience
of at least three years in social work. " In fact, it's best
to launch an entrepreneurial venture on your own. Even though there
are plenty of funds and opportunities to be exploited, it still
remains an unorganised sector. But you do need to work hard."
says Nandini Biswas of the Garia Society for Integrated Development
(GSID), a Calcutta based NGO.
Most social worker specialise in some field or the other. While
some do research or are involved in planning or policy development,
the majority prefers an area of practice in which they can interact
with clients. Those who specialise in personnel management and industrial
relation get jobs as welfare officers, personnel officers, HRD executives,
industrial relations executives and social security officers in
industries and commercial organisations. Social workers specialising
in criminology and correctional administration work in institutions
like prisons, juvenile homes and remand homes. "The recruitment
depends on the need in a specific project and we generally prefer
an MSW for the post of a counsellor," says Mrinal Kanti Dutta
of Sonagachi Project, part of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee,
an NGO in Calcutta.
With a degree in social work you could also become social work planner,
and policymakers, who develop programmes to address issues like
child abuse, homelessness, substance abuse, poverty and violence.
And if you become a real high flier, you
could also land a job with such international organisations as the
UNDP, the WHO, the UNICEF, the UNESCO, the ILO, etc.
"The NGO sector is a growing one and it's fast becoming popular
with so many institution offering it as subject. The last few years
have been the mushroorming of numerous NOGs and they all need trained
MSWs," says Mohua Chatterjee, senior manager, Child Relief
and You (CRY).
The starting salary for an MSW- aualified person ranges between
Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000 per month on an average. In fact, some corporate
houses offer freshers as much as Rs. 18,000 per month for social
Students of social work are also upbeat about the futrur. "
I will hopefully get a job even before i graduate from this course.
I am in the final stages of the recruitment procedure by the Aditya
Birla Group and am expecting a salary of about Rs.25,000 per month
if taken," says Murali Sahoo of Visva-Bharati University. Campus
placements are available for most institutes.
But be prepared foe hard work. Social work is a 24-hour job. "It
requires tremendous amount of patience," says Dutta of the
the Sonagachi Project.