No workforce problem
Again we are told that our field is facing a “workforce shortage” [February, 2009]. Every other profession limits its membership in order to keep salaries and fees high. The “workforce shortage” may be a problem for administrators of social work agencies, but it is not a problem for most social workers. Rather, the concerns of most social workers (and hence, most NASW members) are raising salaries and improving working conditions.
It is very difficult for social workers to negotiate for higher salaries when there is a plentiful supply of applicants for those jobs. I would like to see NASW put the needs of line social workers above the interests of CEOs and administrators of social work agencies. It’s the line social workers who comprise the bulk of NASW’s membership.
New York, N.Y.
Negative media view
It is of no surprise to me how little the media affect people’s decisions to join the field of social work. When I tell people I’m a social worker, I get one of two reactions. “Wow, that’s great, it takes a special person” or “Oh, you take babies away?”
The media (TV, movies, etc.) shows “social workers” as the “bad people.” Scenes often depict people “threatening to call social services” — not as family counselors, disability advocates, or caregiver educators, etc. No matter what job the social worker has, it is an important one, and I feel the media gives social workers a negative view most of the time. Even though I am a geriatric social worker, I find myself educating lots of people on all the many jobs a social worker can possess.
Katie Eller MSW, LSW, ASW-G