Global Social Service Workforce Alliance helps those who help others

23 September 2013 | Opinion

Those in Tshikululu’s health sector are familiar with a USAID initiative called CapacityPlus, a global alliance of healthcare workers and those assisting them in order to realise the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Now an equivalent global alliance for the social service sector has been formed, called the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.

According to the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance website, the social system is “the system of interventions, programmes and benefits that are provided by governmental, civil society and community actors to ensure the welfare and protection of socially or economically disadvantaged individuals and families”.

In this context the social service workforce comprises a wide range of people, be they paid or unpaid, and work for governments or NGOs, who run the social service system and assist on caring for vulnerable people and populations.

“The strength of a social service system is, in many ways, dependent on the strength of its workforce. A well-planned, well-trained, supported workforce is better able to address the needs and enhance the resources of vulnerable populations, including children and families,” says the website.

It continues: “In a world where too many people are made vulnerable due to poverty, social exclusion, inequality and social injustice, a strong social service workforce is urgently needed. Social service workers create protective environments for healthy development and wellbeing by tackling poverty, reducing discrimination, promoting social justice and providing needed services to care for and support those who need it most.

“Yet globally, social service remains one of the most underfunded, misunderstood, and underappreciated fields of work. The social service sector struggles to attract, pay, and retain qualified workers. For example, vacancy rates for established professional and para-professional positions within sub-Saharan Africa range between 50%-60% and half those employed leave their jobs within five years. Statistics such as these indicate a crisis within systems of care and support for vulnerable populations.”

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance has its origins in the PEPFAR-funded Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Conference: Investing in Those Who Care for Children, which took place in Cape Town in 2010. The alliance marked its official launch as a network on 6 June, 2013.

The Alliance is funded by PEPFAR/USAID, and hosted by IntraHealth International through CapacityPlus.