Proper coordination is needed to ensure that social work students have jobs once they have graduated from the national Department of Social Development’s bursary programme. In Reply to question 56, IQP 7 of 2016 to a legislature question I asked Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi, no social work graduates were employed by her department in 2015, despite 290 students completing their studies.
There has never been a more important time for social work to establish itself as a credible profession, working to ensure that the interests of less advantaged sections of the community are promoted and protected.
Gender-based violence, child neglect, alcohol fetal syndrome and abuse of the elderly are massive issues that the department should be dealing with more effectively.
Unfortunately, there is little hope of this service making a difference in the lives of the ever-growing number of poor households as social work graduates in the province face an uphill battle to find work due to budget cuts and political turmoil within the ANC government.
It is commendable that the department has considered the employment of 100 graduates in 2016/17 as outlined in the MEC’s budget policy speech, tabled last week. However, it remains a sad reality that while the national department provides bursaries to students, upon completion of their studies the department is unable to provide them viable employment options.
The MEC and her department must have proper coordination between stakeholders such as Correctional Services, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the provincial and national department to ensure permanent jobs for these graduates, rather than simply giving them internships, as alluded to in the MEC’s reply.
The DA will continue to monitor the placement of social workers, with follow-up questions to the MEC as to where and when the 100 graduates mentioned in her policy speech have been placed.
Given the fact that 70.6% of children in the province are living in poverty as outlined in the Institute for Race Relations 2016 South Africa Survey, the department must prioritise the well-being of children in the province. The employment of social workers is an important factor in ensuring that the rights of our children are upheld and that they protected from the social ills that are prevalent in our society. — Kobus Botha MPL, Shadow MEC for Social Development