Financial capability training for social workers

12 June 2019 | Education
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Mr Tan (8th from left) launching the SG FCAB Training programme alongside NUS Arts and Social Sciences Dean Professor Robbie Goh (6th from left), and members of NAI, NUS Social Work and Citi

NUS Social Work has launched the Singapore Financial Capability and Asset Building (SG FCAB) Training programme via its Continuing Professional Education (CPE) arm, on 7 June. This innovative programme — the first of its kind in Asia — was developed by the Next Age Institute at NUS with funding from Citi Foundation, Citi’s philanthropic arm.

The SG FCAB Training programme will equip social workers and social work students with relevant knowledge and skills to help low-income individuals and families improve their financial capabilities. Trained social workers will be able to provide guidance on household financial matters such as managing cash, budgets, credit, debt and savings as well as protecting their financial well-being.

The programme’s curriculum — a blend of e-learning and classroom training — received positive feedback when pilot-tested with 92 social workers and 60 NUS Social Work undergraduates in 2018. The programme will be offered to about 1,400 accredited social work practitioners in Singapore from July and 250 social workers are expected to receive the training by end 2020.

Social workers have continually sought out creative methods anchored in solid theoretical knowledge base to motivate and encourage low-income families in taking small but significant steps in breaking out of their poverty cycle. The SG FCAB Training programme is a significant step beyond helping low-income families through providing financial aid, which is largely remedial in nature, to building capabilities and assets, which is developmental and preventive.

“Social workers have continually sought out creative methods anchored in solid theoretical knowledge base to motivate and encourage low-income families in taking small but significant steps in breaking out of their poverty cycle. The SG FCAB Training programme is a significant step beyond helping low-income families through providing financial aid, which is largely remedial in nature, to building capabilities and assets, which is developmental and preventive,” said NUS Social Work Head Associate Professor Esther Goh in a statement.

Guest-of-Honour Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament, launched the programme at the “Embracing Financial Capability and Asset Building in Social Work Practice: Working with Vulnerable Populations in Singapore” symposium organised by NUS Arts and Social Sciences.

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Mr Tan (2nd from left) speaking at a panel discussion with social workers from various organisations, moderated by NUS Social Work Associate Professor Corrine Ghoh (far left). 

The symposium also featured a panel discussion titled “Going beyond financial capability to asset building: Is this a possibility for vulnerable low-income individuals and families?”. During the discussion, Mr Tan shared his belief that having a reliable and consistent pool of skilled volunteers — in this case giving financial guidance and planning — will free up social workers to perform their vital work.

“The social sector is not just about helping the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly. The social sector is an opportunity to bring the rest of us on board so that we can play a part to help others, and that’s the only way in which a society is going to change. I don’t know of any other way in which we can build a better society,” he said.

The panel discussion was followed by a plenary session where social workers from various organisations shared their innovative approaches to incorporating financial capability and asset building into their social work practice.

See press release.