Ms Carrie Tan asked the Minister for Social and Family Development in Parliament on 13 September 2021 (a) why are only degree holders allowed to become social workers; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider developing diploma holders into social workers through short professional development courses targeted specifically at those who have a significant amount of work experience in the social sector.
Response from Mr Masagos Zulkifli B M M, Minister for Social and Family Development
Social Work is a profession that engages people and systems to address issues and problems in life to enhance well-being. Social Workers need to have mastery of theoretical and research-based knowledge and have deep skills to make assessments and interventions within professional standards of practice and adhere to the Social Work Profession’s code of conduct and ethical principles.
The roles of Social Workers are multi-faceted. These include how to conduct risk assessment and mobilising of individuals and resources to keep persons safe especially if they are vulnerable. They have the responsibility to make timely professional judgement calls and work with involuntary clients to receive help and improve their wellbeing. The rigour of Social Work training at the undergraduate level ensures that Social Workers are able to apply casework, work with groups and communities to solve problems, improve wellbeing and advocate for vulnerable clients to keep them safe. The basic entry qualification for professional Social Workers in other countries (e.g. United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines) is a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
Diploma holders can take on the role of Social Work Associates and work alongside Social Workers in their professional role. To become a Social Worker, diploma holders have the option of enrolling in an undergraduate programme at the National University of Singapore or the Singapore University of Social Services. Their training at the diploma level may be recognised (subject to each University’s specific admission criteria) and they can complete the Social Work programme within a shorter duration.