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Pioneering Program at Hebrew University Trains Immigrant Social Workers

In an attempt to answer a national manpower shortage and in a new move in the direction of immigrant absorption, a pioneering project in the education of professionals is currently underway at the Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work. The program, which was initiated last June, offers a 13-month course leading to a B.S.W. degree for immigrant students from abroad who already possess a Bachelor’s degree in an allied field, according to a Hebrew University report. The idea for the program was born in the 1969-70 academic year when a graduate of the school, then working for the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, drew the University’s attention to the fact that many young immigrants–primarily from English speaking backgrounds–showed a strong interest in social work in Israel but lacked the qualifications demanded by the Ministry of Social Welfare which would ensure them of academic grading.

They lacked, the report noted, necessary sound knowledge of Israeli institutions, local social work methods and the types of problems likely to be encountered. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption felt so strongly that they should be helped to qualify, that it agreed to pay their tuition fees and to provide the budget required by the School of Social Work for running the special program. The Ministry of Social Welfare forecasts a shortage of up to 250 social workers a year for at least the next four years. Thus, this course and the parallel one being given at Bar-Ilan University constitute an important contribution to relieving the country’s needs in this area, the Hebrew University report stated. The students are mainly from the U.S. and Canada, though there are also immigrants from England, South America, Australia and France.

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