Agreement between four major universities to increase the number of places for future social workers
At least 500 tuition places will be available nationwide
BUCHAREST, May 26, 2021 - The National College of Social Workers in Romania (NCSW), UNICEF in Romania, the University of Bucharest, the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca, the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași and the West University of Timișoara signed an agreement on Friday, June 21st, for developing and promoting a public policy framework aimed at increasing the number of social workers, especially in rural areas, together with facilitating access to higher education for people with responsibilities in social assistance who are already working in the field. The total number of licensed social workers required is estimated at 11,100, and 70% of employees in the social assistance system have no education in the field.
The signatories of the agreement aim that, by 2030, the provision of complex social services be carried out only by social workers, as defined by Law 466/2004, to ensure the appropriate quality of these services.
Through the protocol signed on Friday, starting this year, specific programs for strengthening the workforce in the field of social services at local level will be introduced in stages. An example is that of programs aimed at increasing the number of places for distance learning so as to reach at least 500 tuition places nationwide.
Another objective of the agreement refers to collaboration for the development of skills and capacities for research, training and supervision for the professions in the social services workforce, including the promotion of the Code on the Practice of the Social Worker.
• In Romania, there is a shortage of employees in the social assistance system and there are significant disparities between the number of these employees in rural and urban areas (1.27 employees per locality in rural areas compared to 5.75 in urban areas).
• Approximately 70% of the employees in the social assistance system do not have studies in the field.
• Of the 3,187 administrative-territorial units (ATUs) in Romania, 2,060 (64.6%) have no accredited social service provider, and 2,302 ATUs (72.2%) have no social service licensed.
• In order to cover the needs of vulnerable groups at national level, a number of 8,430 social services would be needed, and to cover these services with qualified staff, 22,644 specialists would be needed. The total number of licensed social workers required is estimated at 11,100. 10,235 social workers are currently registered within CNASR.
"I congratulate the signatories of the agreement and thank you, on behalf of millions of beneficiaries of the increase in the quality of social services as a result of the conclusion of this partnership. Those who provide social services are the professionals you train in universities. In addition to the theoretical knowledge, in addition to all the information that you convey, try to convey them the values that must accompany them, because a person who works in social assistance must have a vocation for it, to understand that she or he is the one who, first of all, must show empathy, humanity, kindness towards the people they work with ", said Florica Cherecheș, President of the National Authority for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Children and Adoptions.
"The experience of recent years shows us that, at the local level, there is a great lack of social workers. Although the legislative provisions exist, we find, in practice, that they do not apply, that they are not employed, at the level of public social assistance services, social workers, especially in rural areas. In most cases, social assistance is provided at the local level by people who have not even gone through a training or specialization course, not to mention a qualification course. We welcome this initiative to identify and implement solutions to increase the number of social assistance professionals, "said Peter Janos Makkai, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
"We want to work together, until 2030, to build a professional social assistance system in which the provision of specialized services is carried out by qualified social workers, thus ensuring the quality of social services provided," said Doru Buzducea, President of CNSWR.
"We see the emphasis on the need to expand the distance learning offer as an optimal solution - and not a compromise - to the need for well-trained professionals in accordance with the legal requirements and needs of the beneficiaries. We hope that distance education will make more accessible the offer of our universities to students from rural areas, the area with the largest deficit of social workers with specialized studies ", said Prof. Dr. Conțiu Tiberiu ȘOITU, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences- Politics, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași.
"The Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at UBB Cluj-Napoca supports the stated objectives of the partnership agreement signed on Friday: it wants to strengthen the workforce in the field of social services in rural areas, promotes increasing the number of social workers especially in rural areas and supports people who work in social services to qualify as social workers. It tries to do this especially through the distance learning program of the faculty, which in the last 12 years has had over 300 graduates in social work, in addition to those in the current education program. We try to develop competencies and abilities using the specifics of UBB: orientation towards the tradition of excellence and integrating the new university pedagogy of UBB ”, said Lecture Dr. Paul-Teodor Haragus, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, Babeș-Bolyai University.
„The West University of Timișoara, through the Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, joins this initiative to support the profession of social worker, being the main training provider in the field of social assistance in the west region of Romania. An involved actor in community life, the West University of Timișoara intends to actively contribute to increasing the quality of social services provided at national level by adapting educational content to society requirements, by developing applied studies on the social needs of vulnerable groups and by collaboration actions with the main institutions and organizations in order to professionally integrate the graduates of the social assistance specialization. The current pandemic context has demonstrated the importance of professional social workers in the community, therefore we consider a priority the professionalization of social services, especially those in rural areas ", said Lecturer dr. Irina Macsinga- Dean Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, West University.
"UNICEF joins and supports efforts to increase access to and quality of social services to improve the situation of children in Romania, which has worsened in the last year, and, as part of the national post-COVID-19 recovery, calls on partners to use the current crisis as an opportunity to solve the structural problems faced by the social assistance system ", said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.