The Department of Social Development declares that the critical shortage of social workers in the country has reached a crisis level and cannot be ignored.

“I must point out that the shortage of social workers is now a crisis that can no longer be ignored – especially with the growing social problems in our country,” Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said in a written parliamentary reply this week.

“Our country is faced with a high level of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The scourge of gender-based violence is unbearable, we see women and children being killed on a daily basis; drug addiction is growing, destroying our children and loved ones, destroying families very painfully. All of us in this house suffered and, accordingly, our families.”

The minister said that the shortage of social workers in the country affects not only the fact that the government is now behind in processing such issues as foster families, but also the provision of social services and the socio-economic development of the country as a whole.

She said that when the Government evaluated the Children Act 38 of 2005, more than 16,000 social workers were required to implement the provisions of the Act, which included foster care services.

“That was twelve years ago – and it excluded other pieces of legislation around substance abuse, victim empowerment, older people, social crime prevention, people living with disabilities and so on,” Zulu said.

In August, Zulu told parliament that her department was trying to address the country’s critical shortage of social workers by creating a social work bursary program.

However, the beneficiaries of the program were not placed in the required roles due to budget constraints.

In 2017-2022, the department provided assistance to 2,709 social workers in obtaining qualifications. However, only 1,553 were posted during the same period.

“On July 28, 2022, we submitted a joint application to the National Treasury, which we are continuing to work on and very soon we should have a detailed plan in terms of some proposals on how we think the government can recruit additional social workers,” she said. .

“Although we celebrate when in some cases we hire social workers on a temporary basis, we would be better off absorbing social workers on a permanent basis given our high unemployment rate.”

She said she was engaging with the finance minister on the matter, specifically to address the underfunding of the social sector and social workers in particular.

What is the salary of social workers in South Africa

Salary tracking websites PayScale, Indeed and place the average salary of a social worker in South Africa at a wide range of R188,000 to R300,000 per year.

A more official tracking of nursing salary data can be found through Public Service Social Worker Salaries.

Like many other public service workers, social workers in South Africa have not benefited from massive wage increases over the past two years, with the third year of negotiated wage agreements (2021) between unions and government rejecting incremental wage increases.

Starting in July 2021, public sector workers’ wages increased by just 1.5%, with a small cash bonus offered to those on lower wages.

Among social workers, child and adolescent care workers remain the lowest paid, at between R143,073 and R190,575 a year – or between R11,900 and R15,900 a month.

Meanwhile, the top earners are social work and community development managers, who can earn up to R1.12 million a year (R93,000 a month).

The table below describes some of the main roles of nurses and their pay.

Role Scale of wages Minimum (lowest grade) Maximum (highest score)
Child and youth care worker 1 – 5 R143 073 190,575 rupees
Head of the group for the care of children and youth 1 – 6 190,575 rupees R220,923
Assistant Community Developer 1 – 9 R143 073 R256 113
Social support worker 1 – 9 150,438 rupees R269,301
Child and Youth Care Supervisor 1 – 5 R202 176 R269,301
Community developer 1 – 11 R220,923 R438 945
Community Development Supervisor 1 – 7 R369 258 R524 121
Social worker 1 – 8 R261,456 R589 896
Community policy developer 1 – 11 R312 183 R589 896
Social Work Policy Developer 1 – 11 R369 258 R589 896
Assistant head of community development 1 – 5 R494 037 R663 942
Supervisor of social work 1 – 15 R389 991 R725 517
Social Work Manager / Policy Manager / Community Development Manager / Public Policy Manager 1 – 6 R806 811 116,831 rupees

Read: The National Treasury is hiring – and looking for these skills

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