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The growing demand for social workers in communities

by Lisa A. Yeager

Social workers help communities grow and thrive. There is a huge demand for social workers, so those looking for a career must assist others in considering this demand and getting the job skills they need.

The demand for social workers is expected to rise considerably. This raises concerns that there will not be enough social workers to help the number of people needing help over the next 40 years.

There are many reasons for the increased demand. Over the years, the need for workers in some areas of social work may be greater than in others. For example, suppose we can reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness. In that case, there will still be an overwhelming demand for social workers to help with issues related to aging. So, while the need for social workers will continue to be high, some pressure to train in other areas may be somewhat relieved as some social issues are reduced.

Here are a few issues that impact the demand for social workers in communities all over.

Aging population

North America has a very large population of older people. While this is well known, many do not realize that this is an issue that many countries face. As people moved to urban centers and birth control became more available and accepted, overall birth rates dropped.

People live more individually and in smaller households than they once did. Elderly relatives are far more likely to live alone or with an older spouse or partner than in a larger family unit. As they age, performing daily errands and activities can get harder. Medical appointments have become more frequent. Transportation may be an issue for some.

Elder abuse is another major concern in modern society. Some older people are particularly vulnerable to scams or bullying that result in a loss of financial resources. A social worker can help stop abuse and ensure it is not likely to happen again.

Social workers are needed to advocate for older people and help them access resources that will allow them to maintain their independence and a reasonable quality of life. Trusted family members, such as children, often work with social workers to ensure that certain applications and appointments, for example, are kept and promises are followed through.

Mental and substance abuse issues

Unfortunately, there has been a dramatic rise in mental illness and substance abuse. While some of the rises in mental health issues can be attributed to greater awareness and more people having access to affordable medical care, many complex problems drive the steep hill in general mental health issues.

Pre-existing mental health issues can sometimes exacerbate substance abuse. People battling severe mental illness are more likely to seek a means to escape their suffering. While they may get some relief, illegal substances make mental health worse while deteriorating physical health.


While not all homeless people have an addiction or suffer from severe mental illness, there is a strong correlation between the high levels of homelessness we see today and the rise in extreme substance abuse. Social workers must reach out to homeless people and get them the help they need to improve their lives. Safe housing, food, medical care, counseling, and a supportive environment of peers can make a huge difference.

High rates of immigration

Many areas are becoming more diverse. As a site gets more people from different ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds, the need for social workers rises. Social workers can help individuals and families find their place in the community and get access to things like English classes and work opportunities.

Social workers can also help with school enrollment and ensure children get adequate nutrition.

Increased rates of chronic illnesses

As people live longer, more have chronic illnesses or even multiple chronic problems and disabilities. Social workers help these people find the medical resources they need. Many people with disabilities need adaptations made to their homes so they are more accessible. This is especially important for maintaining independence for as long as possible.

Is social work the right career choice for you?

If you are looking for a very rewarding career with much room for growth, social work can offer that. You will be helping people overcome hardships and have better and healthier lives.

Social workers will continue to be in great demand for a long time

Peace of mind and great job security are hard to beat. While this should not be your main reason for pursuing a career in social work, it is a nice perk. Those who embark on this career path now will have a lot of future opportunities for career advancement.

Social workers can choose a specialization that targets what they are most passionate about

While a degree in social work will qualify you for positions in many different facilities and organizations, you can pick a specialization. Are you determined to help with mental health and substance abuse issues? Perhaps you want to work advocating for older people or work with families? Discipline can also help you get the needed experience while earning your degree. When you are placed with a mentor for fieldwork, your specialization will be considered so you get the most out of your fieldwork experience and leave with a degree and credentials that increase the odds that you will get the exact position you want.

Social work is ideal for those great at relating to and engaging others.

Are you considered a friendly and approachable person that people naturally open up to? Are you the person that people come to for advice a lot? Well, these are signs that you would make a great social worker. The ability to connect with others from a wide range of demographics is a valuable trait. Too many people are reluctant to accept the help and support of social programs in their area that aim to improve their quality of life and support them during particularly difficult times.

You can earn a social work degree mostly online.

You can train for social work while maintaining another job and meeting family obligations. Classes can be done online, but you will be placed in a field position toward the end of your degree program. Field placement may still allow for some work, depending on the schedule you can manage. An online BSW program from Spring Arbor University is a good choice for those looking to retrain in a new career or who have just graduated from high school and want to earn their degree. If you have prior college coursework, you can transfer up to 80 credits and complete your degree in as little as 20 months.

What to expect from a career in social work

Social work is full of challenges. This is why it is a good career for those who love to face challenges head-on and do whatever it takes to overcome them! After all, your job is to help people overcome obstacles that can seem overwhelming or even impossible.

Facing and overcoming problems is extremely rewarding, especially when seeing the results firsthand. Social workers know their clients’ joy and sense of achievement when their lives improve and goals are achieved. Knowing you helped make that happen is invaluable.

Interaction with a lot of people

While your client list may seem limited at times, you will be working with many people from various agencies and organizations while helping those clients. Over time, you will form more in-depth relationships with others who are also in the business of helping the community.

You may face significant suspicion and resistance.

It can be difficult for some to trust someone they do not know. This may be especially true when that person is offering help. As a social worker, you will have to interact and try to help people who do not believe you can help them, or rather do not believe this at first. Some will be concerned that they will have to give up a lot of privacy to get help or that accepting use will invite other trouble into their life.

Finding ways to break down these trust barriers can be challenging. Having an honest and very open conversation is helpful. Reassuring the client and resolving each concern may be necessary. It may take some time and diplomatic dialogue to discover why they are reluctant to trust or accept assistance.

Regular work schedule

Most social workers enjoy a regular work schedule during typical business hours. Some positions or situations may require or request after-hours or weekend work, but it is not typical.

Regular business hours are helpful for those who do their best work during the day or have children.

Social workers may be required to appear in court at certain times, but this will always occur on a weekday at a time scheduled in advance.

Opportunities to work at many locations

Social workers are in demand at hospitals, non-profits, prisons, detention centers, government social service offices, schools, hospitals, and elder care centers. This allows for many career opportunities and room to change your focus throughout your career.

Relocation can help advance your career in some cases. Social workers can easily find work if they relocate to another area. Employers can be very competitive in recruiting the social workers they need in their communities when they have a job in high demand.

You will help people learn to work together and appreciate differences.

People often see their differences, which can be incredibly divisive and harmful to communities and neighborhoods. Sometimes, it can be difficult for people to see how much they have in common. Sometimes, it can be difficult for people to see how much they have in common. Sometimes, it can be difficult for people to see how much they have in common. Social workers can help communities learn about the cultures and religions of those around them. Community centers, for example, are great places to have events and activities that bring people together in a neutral environment to do fun things together.

Great things happen when people learn to work through their differences and realize they have many common goals. Communities become safer and stronger and provide more opportunities for those from every background.

Learning to work well with others is a skill people can use at work and school to be more productive and have a more positive learning environment.

Knowing how to work well with people from all walks of life can open up many opportunities for everyone.


Social work is a rapidly growing field that needs talented and engaging people to continue the mission of helping others and improving society. Now is a fantastic time to earn a degree and make a difference in your community.

Social workers are critical in helping people learn to live and work together.

Anyone entering the field of social work should understand that there are some people and situations you can only do so much to help. Some cases are simply beyond your control. You should realize that no matter what, you are doing what you can to make the world a better place, which you should feel great about.

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