Social Work at The Street-Level of Employment Policy - Institutional vs. Professional Challenges European Conference on Social Work Research, Bolzano, April 15th-17th – 2014 Søren Peter Olesen, Associate Professor, Institute of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, [email protected] Introduction – a case of what? • In Denmark social welfare offices were merged with the state employment service into municipal job-centres what are the consequences for the social work profession? • A case of employment-oriented social work • Social work or ’human services’ • Specific Danish developments seen in the context of • Welfare Workfare + Human Capital Work First • New Public Management and Governmentality • Employment-Oriented social work as Street-Level Activity • Coping-mechanisms due to the structure of the working situation • Hopes for reform and reconstruction of public service A Danish case A reform of Danish local government in 2007 reduced the number of municipalities from 279 to 98. After the reform the state employment service became integrated in municipal employment and welfare administration. This has contributed to the on-going comprehensive reforms of social and employment administration, including social work During these processes the role of social work has been problematized As an implication employment oriented work has been challenged by work with social problems in addition to unemployment and accordingly social policy and social work has been challenged by employment orientation (shift from welfare to workfare) Social work at Danish job-centres - 1 Severe problems in addition to unemployment among cash benefit recipients – analyses of official statistics Similarities between the job-centres (due to common context), e.g. heavy workloads and ethical dilemmas – analyses of survey and interview data Social work at Danish job-centres - 2 Surprising differences between the job-centres as regards overall strategy and perception of need of qualifications and competences – analyses of survey and interview data: • Clarification and motivating for job – social workers dis-preferred • Clarification of the citizen, e.g. as regards cash benefits or social pension – social workers preferred • On-going activation, control and sanctions – no specific demands as regards qualifications at the street-level • Placement in job – social workers among others, but they have a too broad education Social work at Danish job-centres - 3 Differences as regards micro-processes at the street-level – analyses of observations/tape-recordings of professional-client-talk: • Including people with personal difficulties • Working with complexities and co-operating with other actors • Managing motivation and user involvement Concluding Raising discussions about: 1. The character and functionality of the professional practice at the organisational front-line 2. The qualifications demanded of social workers at the street-level 3. The consequences of state regulation and management measures in the field Professional knowledge at Danish Job-centers Combination of different forms of professional knowledge at Danish Jobcenters, including medical, labor market and social work knowledge ([email protected]) A large multi-method study of educational background, qualifications, challenges and needs for training among social workers at Danish job-centers was finished by the end of 2011. The study consisted of analyses of documents, register-data, survey- and interview-data as well as observations and sound recordings of institutional interaction at different job-centers. The multi-method approach appeared seminal as regards capturing the complexities of the front-line work in the employment policy front-line, including the need to combine medical, labor market and social work knowledge. The study could be illustrative in relation to policy, governance and educational discussions Literature 1. Baadsgaard, K., Jørgensen, H., Nørup, I. & Olesen, S.P. (2012): Jobcentre og klemte kvalifikationer. Hvorfor og hvordan studere faglig praksis og kvalificering til arbejdet I beskæftigelsessystemet med kontanthjælpsmodtagere og sygemeldte. Aalborg Universitet: CARMA. 2. Baadsgaard, K., Jørgensen, H., Nørup, I. & Olesen, S.P. (2012): Praksis, krav og kvalifikationer. Jobcentermedarbejdernes erfaringer og holdninger til beskæftigelsesarbejdet, belyst ved interview I 4 jobcentre. Aalborg Universitet: CARMA. 3. Baadsgaard, K., Jørgensen, H., Nørup, I. & Olesen, S.P. (2012): Praksis og kvalifikationer set fra fronten. Jobcentermedarbejdernes erfaringer med og syn på indsats og kvalificering omkring arbejdet med kontanthjælpsmodtagere og sygemeldte. Aalborg Universitet: CARMA. 4. Baadsgaard, K., Jørgensen, H., Nørup, I. & Olesen, S.P. (2012): Mikroprocesser: Den konkrete faglige praksis i jobcentrene. Observationer af frontlinjevirksomhed. Aalborg Universitet: CARMA. These reports are at present reorganised and forthcoming as three books 2014.