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Preparing Leaders for the Social Work Profession


Despite the significant expansion of the nonprofit sector and the social work profession, the field of social work administration has not followed suit. Very few students in graduate social work programs express an interest in preparing for careers in administration – a large majority of students select clinical or interpersonal work as their practice focus. This has created a serious dilemma – on one hand many nonprofit social service administration jobs are going to individuals with no social work background, while on the other hand fewer social workers are being prepared for leadership positions in organizations.

As a growing number of social service agencies are being run by administrators from fields other than social work, educational programs and professional groups like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the National Network of Social Work Managers are concerned about the ability of social work to remain at the forefront of agency decision-making and the development of policy at the highest levels.

Uncertainty around the unique knowledge base and skills required to be effective managers and organizational leaders is very prevalent in social work education. It is imperative, therefore, to assess the specific competencies and knowledge-base required by service administrators and managers in the field, highlight the essential differences between administrators/managers trained in social work and those trained in other disciplines (such as law, business, public health, etc.), and recruit social work students to leadership and management studies.

This presentation talks about the need for social workers to be knowledgeable about organizational and administrative issues in social work and provides some ideas on how to integrate that knowledge into their learning experience at GSS.

Manoj PardasaniManoj Pardasani, LCSW, ACSW, PhD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Fordham University
Graduate School of Social Service
113 West 60th Street
New York, NY 10023


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