Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) for each year in the past five years, what is the average and median number of years a fresh graduate social worker remains in employment as a social worker without any change in profession; and (b) if such data is not being collected, whether the Ministry will start collecting it.
1. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is committed to building a strong core of professionals in the social service sector. We collect data, such as information on accreditation of social workers and staff turnover in the sector, that help our Ministry to plan for manpower needs for the sector. However, we do not collect data on the retention of fresh graduate social workers in social work professions over time.
2. Social workers are employed in a range of settings from the social service sector to the healthcare and education sectors where the profession is able to be part of the multi-disciplinary system. A change in profession may occur for a variety of reasons, and there is also re-entry into the sectors, for example, when their family commitments are lessened. Given that social workers work in a diverse range of organisations, it would not be practical to track changes in employment for all individuals with social work qualifications, and such data is insufficient to determine whether there are retention issues without the context of qualitative feedback.
3. Nevertheless, we recognise that retention efforts are key. We continue to work closely with Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to understand their manpower needs and collect feedback from social service professionals, including on whether there are retention issues and the reasons why social workers may decide to leave the profession. This will enable us to better work with the sector on development and retention efforts and ensure that social workers are adequately supported in their professional journey.
4. To support fresh social work graduates entering the social service sector, the Social Service Institute (SSI) offers onboarding programmes that equip new social workers with foundational knowledge of various social work settings. These courses aim to deepen their understanding of the social service sector and facilitate networking with experienced social workers and peers. MSF also supports the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) in providing clinical supervision and mentoring to less experienced social workers. Additionally, MSF partners SSAs to promote self-care and retention for social workers.