Social work: Studies and practice

In Norway there are three separate professional studies recruiting social workers: Social work, Child Care Work and Social Education. Social education has its background in the services for persons with intellectual impairments. There are 12 institutions giving bachelor courses in Social Work. 11 in Child Care Welfare and 12 in Social Education. A growing number are taking different master courses with relevance for social work.

About 26 500 people are working as social workers in Norway. Most of them work in the public sector. Of these, the majority are employed by the municipalities; in Social Services, Child Care, Rehabilitation and Home-based Care. Also, a significant number are state employees, working in Hospitals, Psychiatric institutions, Child Care Institutions etc. A growing number are employed in private institutions and NGOs. The Norwegian Union of Social Educators and Social Workers (FO) is a voluntary Professional Association and Trade Union which recruits both Social Workers, Child Care Workers and Social Educators.

Social work practice is mainly characterized by case work. Community work has a modest position, and the tendency is that both preventive work and community work is given a lower priority.