9 Int'l Soc. Work 1 (1966)

handle is hein.journals/intsocwk9 and id is 1 raw text is: 





A   COMPARATIVE VIEW OF MANPOWER PROBLEMS:
                      THE BRITISH APPROACH

                         Eileen L. Younghusband,   D.B.E.*


O   NE   of the queerest things about human   nature is
      the amount  of solace we derive from  discovering
that our  problems  and  disabilities also afflict others.
In  the United Kingdom,   as in the United  States there
is a manpower  crisis in social work; or, more accurately,
we  also have  been hit by a  manpower   crisis in social
work.   The  thing that has puzzled me is that the short-
age  itself has been there all the time.  The  crisis is
not  in the situation but in our changed  perception of
the  situation. Neither  the United  Kingdom nor the
United   States had enough  social workers  to man  the
public  or private social agencies when they were much
less  extensive than they  are now,  but  we  have  just
accepted  this as a fact of life rather than as a crisis.

                      The   Crisis
    The manpower   crisis situation (which has been there
 all the time)  was  probably bound   to hit us when   a
 number   of different factors combined to force it upon
 our  reluctant attention. These eye-openers, if I may so
 call them,   include the  expansion  of  existing social
 services, coupled with the introduction of new services;
 the  demand  for a much higher quality of service, which
 naturally  calls for more -  and  more   skilled - man-
 power;  the growth of the population in the most vulner-
 able  age groups -   the old, the young, and the handi-
 capped.   These   changes  have  been  occurring at the
 same   time as a general  increase in professionalisation,
 which   means that more  and more  careers are competing
 for   candidates, many  of  them  able  to offer higher
 awards   and less blood, tears, toil and sweat than social
 work. The higher marriage mortality rate also means
 that  women   are spending  a shorter time in their pro-
 fessional  careers before they  marry  and  the children
 come; and they do not necessarily return to social
 work   later on.

     There  is a  considerable difference, organisationally
   speaking, between  social services in the United States
   and those in the United Kingdom.  Another fundamental
   difference lies in the fact that in the United Kingdom
   we  have  no  states, only national ministries, together
   with  local authorities carrying out legislation enacted
   by Parliament.   At the same  time, the British private
   agencies  are small  fry compared   with those  in the


United  States. But  none  of this is really significant
in the context because the crisis in both countries seems
to be remarkably  similar, i.e., there is a wholly inade-
quate supply of trained manpower   to meet the demand.
In  both, too, we  have  relied on university education
for social work, and  the universities have fallen down
on  us quantitatively speaking. University education for
social work  in the United  States is very much, better
than  ours and they are far ahead  of us in social work
research.  But  this too does not  basically change the
situation in regard to manpower.

   In the early days professional social work developed
 from  within  private agencies with  limited  coverage.
 These  agencies were free to cultivate a small plot with
 the earnest concentration of a Chinese gardener, leaving
 the world's wide wilderness outside. By degrees pub-
 lic services have developed, either giving limited cover-
 age  at a  fair standard and  then  expanding  to  give
 universal coverage, or  giving universal coverage at  a
 low  standard but now  endeavouring to raise its quality.
 At  any rate, from whichever angle the extensions came,
 the  real point is that both the United  States and the
 United  Kingdom are now attempting to provide uni-
 versal public services in the general field of social wel-
 fare.  That  would  be  enough  in  itself, but we have
 also  been forced  by the growth  of knowledge   in the
 behavioural  sciences and  by  its application in social
 work   and  allied fields to realise that the meeting of
 social need consists not only in conferring certain rights
 and  benefits but also in providing a professional service
 which   in itself is the best way we know   to meet the
 need   of people  who  are  troubled and  unhappy,  dis-
 turbed,  at odds with  themselves and with  society. All
 this,  too, comes when   we  have become   aware  as we
 never   have been before of the extent of human  misery
 caused   by emotional  conflict or malnutrition. Indeed,
 we are now appalled by the amount of neurosis, of
   social squalor, of human   waste  and  tragedy in  the
   world's most  affluent societies.

     If what I have been  saying is a correct analysis, then
   it all adds up to agreement  that social workers are as
   universally needed as doctors, nurses or teachers, and
   that an untrained social worker must  become  as much
   an anachronism  as an untrained doctor, nurse or teacher.


*Dame Eileen Youn-hushand is President of the International Association of Schools of Social Work and Advisor on Social Work Training.
National Institute for Social Work Training, London. This paper was presented at a Manpower Symposium held on April 26, 1965 at the
School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago and published in the December. 1965 issue of the Social Sermice Review. It is
reprinted here with the permission of the University of Chicago Press which holds the copyright,

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