Research on the Organizational Forms of Professional Training of Social Workers in Ukraine
The organization of professional training of employees in the field of social work and social services in Ukraine is researched.
The results of the analysis of documents revealing the main directions and subjects of such training are presented, and the contradictions that exist in the regulatory and legal regulation of activities to improve the professional competence/qualification of employees in the field of social work are considered.
Relevance of the research
Ukraine needs a system of professional training that is coordinated at the state level and meets the real needs of social workers. In 2020, we conducted a research on the professional training system for social workers in Ukraine, identified and documented a number of key contradictions and problem areas that affect its effectiveness.
The research we conducted in 2018-2020 shows that:
92.7% of workers in the field of child protection – employees of centers of social services for families, children and youth and employees of children’s services – have a degree
one-third of them (34.1%) have it in line with their professional activity
only 8.0% of employees studied in the field of social work
Bridging the gap between the needs of professional practice and the content and level of training of social work professionals has long been ensured by the most accessible means in the system of postgraduate education: on-the-job training through advanced qualification training courses of various lengths, trainings, internships, exchange of work experience, self-education, etc.
Staff turnover, which has increased as a result of the reorganization processes associated with the decentralization reform, as well as the ineffectiveness of local personnel policies, mean that social work professionals need to significantly improve their professional competencies and their ability to carry out social work and provide quality social services. However, for most workers, the question arises as to where and how they can receive appropriate training.
Objective of the research
To find out the organizational forms of professional training and advanced qualification training of employees in the field of social work.
The main research method used was the analysis of documents, namely regulatory documents of the national and local levels, acts of the head of state, government, other executive authorities, and local governments. The documents of the local level of action were selected taking into account the geography of the project implementation.
The analysis of the documents included:
establishing the main areas of professional training of employees in the field of social work
determining the subjects of activities to improve the professional competence and/or qualification of employees in the implementation of social work and the provision of social services, their powers and legal boundaries of activity
clarification of possible contradictions that need to be resolved regarding the introduction of organizational forms of professional training and advanced qualification training of employees in the perspective of forming a system of professional training in the field of social work in Ukraine
The following regulatory documents were subject to analysis:
on education, professional development of employees and subjects of professional training
on training programs implemented to improve the competence of employees of social work and social service providers
on regulation of the activities of social service centers as key organizations providing social services
An additional method of research was the analysis of open Internet sources (websites) of entities whose activities are related to improving the professional competence/qualification of employees in social work and social services.
Key results of the research
Improving the professional competencies of employees in the field of social work is possible in two ways:
Retraining and/or advanced qualification training provided by educational service providers with appropriate accreditation and licensing.
Professional training of employees, which can be carried out by both educational service providers and public sector organizations engaged in the relevant type of economic activity.
Workers who have previously obtained a professional qualification at the appropriate level of the National Qualifications Framework for the profession are eligible for advanced qualification training. However, in practice, many workers do not have a basic education in social work and cannot use this option.
The following key contradictions complicate access to professional training and advanced qualification training for employees:
Scheme 1. Areas and subjects of development of professional competence/qualificationsocial of employees in the field of social work
Entities responsible for development of professional competence/qualification are subordinated to different ministries and do not coordinate their requirements with training programs. The regularity, scope and frequency of training differ for different target audiences – civil servants and local government officials and employees of social service centers, social service institutions, social work specialists, and other professionals involved in providing social services to families with children.
There is a lack of funding for development of professional competence/qualification of social workers and other social protection workers, resulting in the absence of training programs relevant to the needs of social service providers.
There is a gap between the content of vocational training programs and the actual training needs of employees; there are no procedures for assessing training needs and selecting the optimal training provider.
Due to the uneven distribution of the number of entities responsible for professional training and advanced qualification training, employees do not have adequate regular, systematic access to professional training. There are many entities that provide advanced qualification training, but most employees cannot take advantage of them. There are few entities that provide vocational training and skills development services, but they are in high demand and are relevant for on-the-job training.
Due to the transformation of the system of social management and social service provision in the context of decentralization, regional CSSs have acquired significant powers in professional training, but they do not have sufficient resources and methodological support for the professional training of all social service providers in the regions. In addition, having the authority to implement training programs and improve the professional competence/qualification of social service providers, civil servants, and officials, regional CSS cannot independently carry out relevant educational activities in accordance with the Classifier of Economic Activities , and, if the need for advanced qualification training is involved, they cannot act as a training provider of interest to the employee.
Overcoming these contradictions should be the main task in the process of developing an effective system of professional training for social workers.