Alongside the likes of teaching and nursing, social care jobs tend to be both demanding and rewarding in equal measure.
To succeed in the field, a complex skill-set is required. As in any job in which you’re working with the general public, it’s important to be patient and friendly and to be able to get on well with those from all walks of life. In social care though, you’re often faced with shocking and downright horrifying situations in which, for example, a child may have suffered serious neglect or worse from the very adults entrusted with ensuring their wellbeing. It takes a certain type of person to be able to approach such situations calmly, professionally and in a manner which puts the child first but at the same time does not jump to conclusions.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are unsurprisingly vital too, as is time-keeping as many social workers will have heavy workloads. Moreover, those in social care positions working with the elderly will need a high degree of compassion. Whilst all of these skills transcend gender, there remains a huge divide in the amount of women compared to men working in the profession. This is something which the chief executive of Care England bemoaned in a BBC report in 2015.
The main reason for this it seems is that the social care sector is traditionally considered to be one aimed at women. Thankfully though, this is a viewpoint which is beginning to be eroded at long last. The government funded graduate scheme Frontline is at the forefront of this revolution. It aims to attract highly skilled graduates and career switchers to consider social work as a profession. Whilst the long-term effects and potential benefits of this scheme have been questioned in some quarters, it is undeniably making a younger, more dynamic generation of graduates consider social work and social care, where they may not have otherwise.
Olive Stevenson, a highly respected academic in the field of social work, has been quoted as saying: “to be an effective social worker, there has to be a dynamic interplay between emotion and intellect.” This is no mean feat; indeed, in trying situations it’s human nature to allow emotions to have a major impact on both your thought processes and actions.
Whether social care is the right career for you is a question only you can answer. As with any position in which you are tasked with being responsible for society’s most vulnerable people, such jobs can be exhausting both physically and mentally. On the other hand, however, in knowing you’re making a real, tangible difference, they can give you greater job satisfaction than any office job ever could.