Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu is looking into the plight of unemployed social workers.
Social work, Zulu said, remains a critical skill and one of the most important professions which contribute towards improving the lives of poor and vulnerable South Africans.
This comes as Zulu tabled the department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) with the Select Committee on Health and Social Development in Parliament on Tuesday, where concerns were raised about the plight of unemployed social workers around the country.
At the meeting, the committee wanted to know what plans the department has to employ social workers across government.
The Minister said the employment of social workers was high on her agenda and she believes that an engagement across government and the private sector was necessary.
“In March this year, the department called on all unemployed social workers to register on the departmental database.
“This initiative was aimed at informing the department about the number of unemployed social work graduates who studied outside the Social Development Scholarship Programme; thus enabling efficient planning and wider inclusion of all social work graduates in government recruitment processes,” Zulu told the committee.
She said 7 000 unemployed workers have since registered on the departmental database. This excludes 5 000 unemployed social workers who studied through the Social Development Scholarship Programme.
Keeping in mind that the social work profession was declared a critical skill in the country in 2001, the Minister said government, through the Department of Social Development, is developing an interdepartmental human resource planning and management strategy.
“The strategy is informed by the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision which aims to facilitate the employment of social workers, as part of 55 000 social service practitioners required by the country by the end of the year 2030,” the Minister explained.
The committee also raised the issues of gender-based violence, the continued rise in HIV infections among young people, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as fraud and corruption in the grant system.
It urged the Minister to work with the Social Development Sector.
The department will on Friday hold a workshop with the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament, in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, during her first meeting with MECs of the department last week, Zulu and the principals unanimously agreed on certain priority areas over Medium Term Expenditure Framework period.
These included, among others:
- Fighting the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse that causes immeasurable damage to the country, especially the youth;
- Child abuse, neglect and exploitation, which rob children of the joys of childhood;
- Gender-based violence, which is an affront to the ideals of the Freedom Charter of building an equal and non-sexists society;
- Improving the provision of developmental welfare and community development services to deliver better results for the most vulnerable;
- Deepening comprehensive social assistance by extending the scope of social security provisions; and
- Enhancing coordination mechanisms, integration, planning, monitoring and evaluation to measure the impact of interventions. – SAnews.gov.za