Crime increases need for social workers


FOR the CAO applicant, social work is an example of every cloud having a silver lining. For the apparent increase in crime has given rise to an increase in demand for social workers. In a profession which has been in the doldrums jobs wise for several years there is now a very buoy ant employment market. Indeed there are some reports that not enough social workers are available to fill vacancies.

The implementation of the new Child Care Act, drug rehabilitation programmes, the expansion of the probation service and other programmes for young offenders have all lead to increased demand for social workers. So the prospects are good.

COURSES: Trinity is the only university college with an undergraduate course which provides full professional training as a social worker - the four year social studies degree course (TR084). But students can take a degree course in social science at UCD or UCC or take the sociology/social policy degree course at Trinity and gain the professional social work qualification through a master's in either UCC or UCD.

Of course, not by a long shot does everyone who studies social science or sociology become a professional social worker. Many would go into research, administration, business, personnel work and other areas.

A social science/sociology degree can be used as a broad general education from which to advance to many different careers, or for doing a one year postgrad course in some other area.

You can take sociology as an arts subject at UCU, or as a specialisation after year one in the BESS programme at Trinity. Sociology is the science of the study of society, whereas social work is an applied, professional qualification; social science is a broad umbrella covering a number of social sciences. As part of a social science degree course at: UCD, for example, you can take politics, geography, statistics or: economics.

At RTC level the certificate courses in applied social studies are mainly designed to train people to work in a care situation with children, the handicapped, the elderly, in community work: and in various residential institutions.

Athlone, Cork and Sligo RTCs and the DIT have certificate courses with follow on diploma, options. Waterford RTC has a three year diploma, aimed at child care, but applicants must already be working in the areas and spend half their time at work and half in study. Cork and Waterford RTCs now have follow on degrees in applied social studies for diploma holders.

DENTISTRY: Space did not permit us to deal with dentistry in the column on medical careers, but we can report that the jobs situation is very good indeed for dentists. Indeed health boards have some difficulty recruiting dentistry graduates for the public dental service.

The main difficulty dentists face is raising the money to equip a new practice or to buy into an existing one. But there are plenty of opportunities; many still go to England for a few years.

Unfortunately points are high and will almost certainly remain high with just the two courses in UCC and Trinity.

Trinity requires two science subjects, with a minimum of a higher B in one and a higher C in the other; if you don't have physics, then you must have an ordinary D in maths.

UCC is introducing a requirement for a higher C in chemistry. But its current brochure has a well hidden footnote which says that this requirement does not come into effect until 1997; in the meantime you need an ordinary D in maths and an ordinary D in any science subject.

OTHER PARAMEDICAL: We have already dealt with radiography and physiotherapy. The remaining paramedical degrees such as clinical speech (or speech therapy) and occupational therapy (both at Trinity) and human nutrition/dietetics all provide a pretty healthy employment situation. The problem is not so much finding work, it is getting a place. The points tend to be high, mainly because the number of places is very small, and that is unlikely to change.

The DIT has optometry on the cert/diploma list, though it is really a degree level course, spanning four years. It registered a staggering 510 points last year, but with only 20 places this is hardly surprising.

The problem here is that the places are kept in line with the available jobs. Everyone gets employment at the expense of small numbers and huge points. Any CAO applicants contemplating these courses should take a long, hard look at the points and assess whether they have a real possibility of achieving them - and whether it is worth it.

NURSING: This is not on the CAO/CAS form. But because so many of the major hospitals have now transferred to university training, many callers to this column have inquired about it.

The Nursing Applications Centre in Galway handles applications for the university nursing diploma courses. Last year two hospitals ran a nursing diploma in conjunction with UCG, Limerick Regional Hospital ran one in conjunction with UL, and Beaumont ran one in conjunction with DCU.

Between them they got 3,000 applications for 220 places. Other hospitals are joining this year. No closing date has yet been set. Contact them at PO Box 118, Galway and watch out for advertisements in the media in the spring.

For traditional hospital based training there is the Joint Recruitment Bureau. It handled five hospitals last year and will probably have more this year. Closing date is not yet decided. The JRB is at PO Box 214,31-33 Catherine Street, Limerick; again watch out for advertisements or keep in touch with your guidance counsellor.

The two diplomas in applied social studies in Cork and Waterford RTCs require applicants to be employed in a child care capacity and involve two days' study per week combined with work.

COURSES DIRECTORY: The NCEA (National Council for Educational Awards) publishes a very useful guide to courses in the main non university colleges. It provides a very good overview of what is available in the DIT and the RTCs. For anyone who wants to get a bird's eye view of the newer courses on offer, it is well worth browsing through.

It is very readable and divided into course areas - engineering/ technology, science/computing, business and humanities. It is colour coded by course area and there are two or three succinct paragraphs on each course.

It is particularly useful in showing the range of one year diploma and degree courses which are available post certificate in the RTCs. The diplomas are often much more specialised than the certificates and the NCEA directory is the best comprehensive picture of what is available where.

It is called the NCEA Directory of Approved Courses in Higher Education; it costs £3.50 (or £4.00 including postage) from the NCEA at 26 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1; phone 01874 1526/7/8; fax 01-8787608.

The 1996 edition has just been published. Our only complaint is that this is too late for a guide to 1996 courses. Students have to make up their minds before the end of January.