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Shortage or Surplus of Social Workers

Type: Parliamentary Questions

Topic(s): Social Service Agencies & Partners, Social Service Professionals

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether there is a current shortage or surplus of social workers; and (b) if there is a shortage, what are the plans to address this shortage.


1 In the past five years, the number of social workers has grown with the launch of Singapore University of Social Sciences’ Bachelor in Social Work programme in 2016. This augments the pipeline of graduates from the National University of Singapore Bachelor of Arts in Social Work programme. Continuing education and training (CET) programmes in the form of part-time undergraduate degrees, graduate diplomas and master’s by coursework programmes also contribute to the pipeline of social workers.

2 The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and National Council of Social Service (NCSS) also support mid-career professionals who are interested to join the sector as a social worker through the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP). The PCP enables mid-career professionals to undergo skills conversion and move into new job roles as social workers.

3 As of end-2020, there were 2,100 registered social workers . We expect the supply of social workers to be sufficient to meet the increase in demand in the coming years.

4 The demand for social services is expected to grow with demographic changes and the growing complexity of needs. MSF and NCSS will continue to work with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to plan the pipeline of graduates from the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) with social work qualifications. We will also continue to work with Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to ensure the attractiveness of jobs in the sector, through measures such as improving SSAs’ human resource competencies and promoting the Sector Salary Guidelines that provide a reference for SSAs to offer competitive remuneration packages.

1 The figure includes all registered social workers (e.g. in the social service, healthcare sector, etc.) and does not capture social workers who are not registered with the Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board.