Rīga Stradiņš University's Department of Social Work is currently participating in the project Management Competencies in Social Work across the Baltic States (“Managementkompetenzen in der Socialen Arbeit in den Landern des Balticums”), launched 1 July 2013 by Kolping University of Applied Sciences (Department of Social Work; Lithuania) together with partners from Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Department of Social Work; Germany), the University of Tartu (Institute of Sociology and Social Policy; Estonia) and RSU.
Approved and supported through the Baltic-German University Liaison Office by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD with funds from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic Germany, the project promotes the scientific cooperation between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany in the sphere of social work. The aim of the project was to promote the quality and development of social work study programmes across the Baltic States and to add value to the programmes themselves as well as to personal skills and competencies of social workers. The need to highlight the issue of management in social work arose from researches and discussions between Social work departments of Kolping University of Applied Sciences and Katolische Universität Eichstätt-Inglostadt. The discussions revealed that good management skills have become a crucial factor seeking to overcome barriers to successful functioning of services of social work. Therefore, aiming to improve the preparation of future social work professionals in higher education institutions, Kolping University of Applied Sciences together with partnering institutions set a task to research the needs for managerial skills of social workers in Latvia-Estonia-Lithuania and Germany and develop e-guidelines (suggestions for improvement) for improvement of study programmes.
With the help of Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt an on-line questionnaire was developed and an on-line survey was carried to find out the needs for the main management skills of social workers in the Baltic States and Germany. The first step was to find out which management competences social work practitioners need for their daily work situation.
Regarding the previous studies (Schubert; Nüß: 2001; Wimpfheimer: 2004; Hassan et al: 2012, Gevorgianiené et al: 2012), for the on-line questionnaire Management Competencies of Social Work across the Baltic States the following competencies have been chosen: public relations; leadership; economics; quality of insurance; intercultural and personal competencies. The main target group for the questionnaire consisted of students of social work and experts of social work working in HEI and social work service providing institutions.
The results of the questionnaire have become the basis for the suggestions for improvement – Management Competencies in Social Work across the Baltic States. Identifying possibilities for improvement, where such topics as short history of social work education in the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), changing concept of social work as a profession, global definition of social work, management competencies in social work across the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany) were described. Conclusions revealing importance to raise such compeletencies as ability to ensure the quality of social services, to use given resources effectively, to be able to form, manage and control the given budged, to have the knowledge of performance indicators, to plan and manage the workload. Therefore, learning Economics, Business, Book keeping, Economics and Management of Social services, Quality management, Administration of Social Services would be important in improving the competencies of social workers. It was also revealed that interpersonal competencies in Baltic States are still recognized as the most important competencies among others. Students of social work should be able to work independently, be flexible, take responsibility for the services he/she provides, think and assess critically, constantly participate in trainings. Therefore, study programmes should be organized in such way that would foster these competencies in future young professionals of social work. More information on the results can be found at http://kolegija.kolping.lt/.
It is envisaged that these results will be used not only to improve the study programmes, but also will be used as guidelines to develop the training programme for social workers which would be the second step towards improving the competencies of future social work professionals.