Social work as a postgraduate option has got more popular in the city with job prospects beckoning in the form of project coordinators with NGOs, counsellors in institutions and HR professionals in MNCs.

With a plethora of lucrative career-oriented options to choose from, an academic course that involves hobnobbing outdoors in rural pockets, hospitals and slums, still holds allure for students.

Social work as a postgraduate option has got more popular in the city with job prospects beckoning in the form of project coordinators with NGOs, counsellors in institutions and HR professionals in MNCs.

Going by sale of applications and number of admissions in city colleges, the popularity of the course shows an upward swing this year. While sanctioned strength in most colleges offering post graduation is 30, most of them get filled. Applications have doubled in some colleges or increased by 25 per cent.

Alternative to MBA-HR

While an undergraduate course is available only in a couple of institutions, masters in social work are offered by close to a dozen colleges here. Most common specialisations offered are community development, family and child welfare, clinical or psychiatric development, and human resource management (HRM). But HRM is the most preferred as it is increasingly viewed as an alternative to M.B.A with Human Resources specialisation. “Social work candidates come from diverse academic backgrounds, but an inflow of B.Com., B.Sc. and B.B.A are increasing now,” says Stephen, head of the department at Holy Cross College. “An M.S.W. student has more opportunities to get entry into MNCs today.

As companies are keen on corporate social responsibility and in contributing to community development, these students are in demand.” Mr.Relton, head at Bishop Heber College, supplements, “The field work gained by MSW students is extensive and gives them an edge over others for an opportunity in a multinational company.”

With colleges affiliated to the Bharathidasan University offering the option of a concurrent MBA for postgraduate courses, students desiring to work with IT companies, opt for the social work course eyeing prospects as HR professionals, says Madhavan, assistant professor, Srimad Andavan Arts and Science College.

Counselling in schools

With many schools appointing counsellors in the wake of student suicides and violence being reported, social work students specialising in psychiatric counselling stand a good chance to fill these posts.

The district has more than 200 NGO s apart from at least 25 organisations into rehabilitation services. “Compared to many cities, Tiruchi has an active service organisation climate with many organisations involved in working for disabilities, addiction and mental illness,” says Mr.Madhavan. Initial remuneration may not be attractive, ranging from Rs.7,000- 10,000. But two years experience in the field can propel career growth, feels Mr.Relton.

Despite the number of vacancies, NGOs are hesitant to recruit freshers, notes Mr.Stephen. But a few openings come by in government sponsored programmes and World Bank projects. Here the scope is large and armed with skill; students can climb the ladder quickly.

Field work alone may not be enough if students are lacking in functional skills like communication, computer operation as these are expected. “In the first year of study, we try to mould students by sharpening these skills as it is the only way to improve quality of students.”