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Strengthening the Social Service Workforce

In a world where too many people face poverty, social exclusion, inequality and social injustice, a strong social service workforce is urgently needed. A well-planned, developed and supported workforce is better able to address the needs and enhance the resources and resilience of at-risk populations. 

Our Framework for Strengthening the Social Service Workforce was initially developed during the Social Service Workforce Strengthening Conference, held in South Africa in 2010. It has since been reviewed, adapted and utilized around the world as the key framework to guide workforce strengthening efforts. It outlines what are now widely considered as the core best practice elements of planning, developing and supporting the workforce. It is intended as a guide to support country efforts to strengthen the social service workforce and systems.

The use of any or all of the strategies depends on country context and assessment of the existing national workforce to arrive at the best approach to strengthening it. Key country-specific contextual factors include the social welfare, child protection, justice, education and health systems, and cultural, legislative, labor market and economic factors that have an impact on all three areas of the framework.  

The Guidelines to Strengthen the Social Service Workforce for Child Protection, developed by the Alliance in collaboration with UNICEF (2019), also incorporate this framework. 

Download the Framework in English

Télécharger le Framework en français


Three elements to strengthening the social service workforce

Strengthening the Social Service Workforce

Planning the Workforce

Activities include: adopting strategic approaches to planning the social service workforce, which entails such actions as carrying out assessments to identify human resource gaps; using HR data in decision making about financing; improving recruitment, hiring, and deployment practices; and advocating for intraministerial dialogue and coordination to generate the political will, legislative frameworks and resource allocation to strengthen and support the social service workforce. Read more here.

Developing the Workforce

Activities to develop the social service workforce include: designing pre-service education and in-service training programs that are aligned with needs identified by workforce assessments; developing appropriate curricula; and strengthening faculty and teaching methods. Read more here.

Supporting the Workforce

Effectively supporting the social service workforce entails putting in place policies and practices that promote effective staff induction and orientation, supervision and mentoring and job satisfaction and retention. It also involves supporting professional associations in their efforts to enhance the professional growth and development of the social service workforce. Read more here.


The Alliance's resource database has a myriad of information and tools related to planning the workforce, developing the workforce and supporting the workforce.