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The Social Service Workforce

Defining the Social Service Workforce

The social service workforce is an inclusive concept referring to a broad range of governmental and nongovernmental professionals and paraprofessionals who work with children, youth, adults, older persons, families and communities to ensure healthy development and well-being. The social service workforce focuses on preventative, responsive and promotive services that are informed by the humanities and social sciences, Indigenous knowledges, discipline-specific and interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, and ethical principles. Social service workers engage people, structures and organizations to: facilitate access to needed services, alleviate poverty, challenge and reduce discrimination, promote social justice and human rights, and prevent and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and family separation.  

Given the diversities across contexts, this definition may be amplified at national and/or regional levels. Learn more about this group of diverse workers by reading the full commentary for additional details on their varied roles.

Advocating for the Social Service Workforce

The Sustainable Development Goals provide an unprecedented opportunity to influence national and international development policy and programs while highlighting the intersections between the work of the social service workforce and those working on health challenges, violence prevention and migration. This is a critical time to promote and build awareness of the valuable contributions made every day by the social service workforce toward achieving the SDGs, particularly related to ending violence against children, supporting children and families on the move and improving health and well-being. Read more about advocating for the workforce.

Strengthening the Social Service Workforce

The framework refined at the Social Service Workforce Strengthening Conference in 2010 outlines strategies to better plan, develop and support the workforce. It is intended as a guide to support country efforts to strengthen the social service workforce and systems. Read more about workforce strengthening, and support our work in this area with a one-time or recurring donation.


Worker Profiles Highlight Diversity of the Workforce

A collection of worker profiles helps to shine a spotlight on various tasks and training of different types of workers, as well as what motivates them to stay on the job.

We also feature case studies or stories that capture the efforts and successes of this workforce. Our current featured stories:

Share your story of change or submit a profile. We look forward to sharing your work with the Alliance network!