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Social Work Can Be A Profession And Not Just A Side Gig

Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL) recently held its inaugural social work virtual forum, ‘Stop the Stigma Against Social Work’ in its efforts to champion the social work profession in Malaysia. The college is the first private institution to offer a Diploma in Social Work, receiving an acknowledgement from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development for its contribution to the local social work landscape earlier this year. 

The forum highlighted the vital role those social workers have played – and continue to play- in mitigating biopsychosocial problems in Malaysia. Among the crucial issues that were discussed at the interactive virtual forum were the myths and stigmas impacting entry into the social work profession, especially when it comes to a social worker’s low income and the general view of social work as a voluntary role rather than a profession.

Source: The Straits Times

Stigma #1: Social Work Is Only Volunteer Work 

The common stigma associated with social work in Malaysia is that it is equated to voluntary roles. This is far from the truth as social workers are trained professionals and are guided by a body of knowledge, values and skills. 

Qualified social workers are professionals who must adhere to the National Competency Standards for Social Work Practice and Professional Code of Ethics while upholding conduct based on the values of human rights and social justice. – Jolyn Hong, Head of Department, Diploma in Social Work (MCKL)

Source: Generasi Gemilang

Stigma #2: Social Workers Earn Pittance 

When it comes to the question of fair financial compensation when involved in social work; as in all organisations, salaries would differ in accordance with the job scope and responsibilities. The idea that social workers earn a minimum wage and would not allow an above-average lifestyle may apply to the NGO sector which is largely funded by public donations. However, not all social workers work in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) setting. They can be gainfully employed in many different sectors, and each sector has different job scopes, responsibilities and salary scales. Social workers are remunerated fairly especially when qualifications and skill set to match. 

Insufficient Qualified Social Workers In Malaysia 

According to a study by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit, the ratio of social workers to population is 1:8,756 Malaysians, far behind the ratio of developed countries such as the US (1:490), Australia (1:1,040), United Kingdom (1:3,025) and Singapore (1:3,448).[1]

This stark ratio reveals the lack of professional and qualified social workers in the country to deal with increasing human problems, let alone the disastrous impact of the long-drawn MCO restrictions. 

It is needful to change the perspective of the current and next-generation on the career of social work. Society at large has to understand that Social Work is like any other profession, where an accredited education is needed and is bound by certain Competency Standard and codes of ethics. 

Jolyn Hong, Head of Department, Diploma in Social Work (MCKL)

Social Workers do much more than just assisting with immediate needs, they empower their beneficiaries using scientific social theories and knowledge, social skills and methods of intervention. The principal aim is to improve the coping skills, resilience, and independent living capacity of people in need. – Jolyn Hong, Head of Department, Diploma in Social Work (MCKL)

With the pandemic ravaging across Malaysia, rising case numbers and movement restrictions, many people are struggling, with the loss of livelihood. Many are not able to cope, and this is impacting them both physically and mentally. We have seen a rise in the amount of suicide and domestic abuse all over the news. There are not enough social workers, aid workers or front liners to address all these issues. Hence, it is clear that we need more professionals on the ground. 

Source: New Straits Times

Currently, many individuals who are able to help those in need are looking for an avenue to be involved in social work while holding a full-time professional position. There are many organizations that would welcome an extra hand. No matter if you want to help in a full-time or part-time capacity. – Jolyn Hong, Head of Department, Diploma in Social Work (MCKL)

It is important to note that you should have the correct skills to be a competent social worker. These skills are taught in MCKL through the Diploma in Social Work. Do be aware that sometimes not having the correct skills, may bring harm to both, the person receiving help and yourself.

Skill sets such as understanding human behaviour, learning public policy, principles of human rights and social justice, social theories and knowledge, and the teaching of social skills and methods of intervention need to be part of the training to be a competent and professional social worker. – Jolyn Hong, Head of Department, Diploma in Social Work (MCKL)

First batch of social work graduates from MCKL in 2021

In an effort to champion the noble profession of social work in Malaysia, MCKL is currently offering a 50% tuition fee waiver on the spot for the August 2021 intake applicable for the full-time and part-time diploma programme. Candidates who are keen to learn more about qualified social work and possibility charting a career in this industry, visit MCKL-Social Work or contact them at +603 2300 0998. 

Explore Our Sources: 

  1. Malaysiakini. (2019). Shortage of social workers among social problem challenges – Wan Azizah. Link

Written by MCKL and edited by the Wiki Impact team.

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