Social workers took to the streets of the capital today in a march to commemorate World Social Workers’ Day, but concerned about employment opportunities.
Allan Thompson, the final year University of the West Indies social work programme student who organized the march, said while many people held a passion for social work, making a living in the field could prove challenging.
“Some of the challenges we face is the lack of employment because it is indeed difficult to get the jobs at this time,” Thompson said.
He revealed that the Barbados Association for Professional Social Workers (BAPSW) was working to get Government to recognize the importance of the skill set in these times “so that we can be able to have more jobs”.
Thompson recommended the best place to begin would be at schools, which in recent times had experienced an increase in violence, including a spate of stabbings.
It was a need that was identified by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Harry Husbands last December, when he admitted at a Democratic Labour Party lecture that a shortage of counsellors and psychologists in the island’s schools was impacting discipline.
“We have children whose parents were on drugs before they were born and they have come into the world with tremendous difficulties . . . .There may be a few young people in our education system who could be diagnosed as schizophrenic or there may even be a few who could be diagnosed as sociopaths. These are important issues and we don’t have yet in this country enough support services such as psychologists and people who have the right support skills to deal with these young people who are living in these times with drugs, violence and guns. Our education system is now struggling to get up to the level required when it comes to the support that we need,” Husbands had said.
He had also indicated at the time that though the Ronald Jones-led Ministry of Education has made strides, it had missed the mark when it comes to treating the root causes of disciplinary issues, and that due to the shortage of counsellors in schools the ministry had been referring children to private psychologist in order for them to get the help that they needed.
This morning Thompson agreed, and insisted that social workers were willing and able to fill the void.
“More social workers will certainly help to stem some of the problems that we are seeing in the schools. When you start social work and study it at the university level you are exposed to a variety of techniques and courses that better help you understand human behaviour. You learn active listening skills all these things groom you to be better able to help young people. So that is certainly one avenue we could be useful,” he said.
This morning’s march, which began at Cheapside and concluded at Heroes’ Square, The City, saw scores of social workers wearing green T-shirts and led by a Tuk band, demonstrate their solidarity with those who look after societies’ vulnerable.