With demand for social service professionals, a Bachelor of Social Services might just be the answer needed to help with the Government's wellbeing review plans.
A new Social Services degree is set to start in 2020 at the UCOL Manawatū Campus and while it awaits NZQA approval and accreditation, Social Services Senior Lecturer, Kim Fry, is busy working on how to equip the future social service workers with knowledge and experience.
"The programme has some similarities to a Bachelor of Social Work but is designed to fill the skill gaps in social support and assistance that organisations and agencies are currently facing throughout UCOL's regions. The idea behind the social services degree is that it provides skills needed for those who work alongside social workers in a supporting role."
Fry, whose experience expands from mental health work, to more recently, Director of Allied Health at MidCentral Palmerston North and Whanganui DHB, is enthusiastic about the impact a qualification like this can have on the community and learners alike.
"There is a high demand for social service staff in New Zealand currently, which means employability is also high. A qualification like this sees graduates come out with the ability to work with factors such as mental illness and addiction in the community."
UCOL's Head of School for Applied Science and Allied Health, Sue Ireland, says the qualification is being introduced in response to community requests.
"Stakeholder engagement and research shows the region needs a qualification such as this and we are responding to that need. There is a gap in the market and this qualification will help to fill that gap."
Students in their first year of the degree can expect a wide range of engaging study including placement work, policy, sociology and have the choice in a major in Mental Health, Addiction Practice or Disability Support.
Subject to NZQA approval and accreditation, the programme is due to start in February 2020 and expressions of interest can be made at the UCOL website Social Services programme page.