Wellbeing services counties and the City of Helsinki express their concern about the availability of social workers

In the joint position statement published yesterday by the five wellbeing services counties and the city of Helsinki, concern is expressed about the availability of social workers in a situation where the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) has tightened its interpretation of who is eligible to substitute for social workers.
Children's home worker in the TV room.
Photo: Kaisa Sunimento

The new interpretation suddenly reduces the number of people who can be counted in the strength of social services personnel in a situation where not all open positions can be filled because not enough social workers are graduating from universities. At the same time, the worker-client ratio of social work is becoming stricter, for example in child welfare services. 

The signatories of the statement call for a rapid reassessment of the guidelines and their amendment to reflect the current situation, where the wellbeing services counties are already suffering from staff shortages and financial strain. The change is considered to deepen the personnel shortage even more.

The statement states that there are too few qualified social workers available for the open positions. The problem arises from a shortage of available university education places in the field of social work. Universities have far too few student places available in social work to meet the need for labour, with no significant increases in intakes in recent years.

The statement was signed on behalf of Helsinki by Maarit Sulavuori, Director of Family and Social Services.