Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania will need 12% more social services providers, including social workers, by 2030, and worker shortages could hinder people getting the support and care they need.

Social services workers relieve suffering and improve the lives of children, seniors and many other Pennsylvanians. There’s already a shortage of these workers, and communities will need even more of them to support the state’s aging population and address the impacts of the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in social isolation, and the increase in mental health challenges for students.

Pennsylvania needs a stronger pipeline of social service workers from the classroom to the workforce. 

addressing-the-social-services-workforce-shortage_800x1400.jpgPASSHE Solution
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is seeking $112 million in state funding so its universities can enroll and graduate more students in social work and related fields, as well as five other in-demand, high-growth jobs. The other fields are education, nursing, business and STEM jobs in computer science and engineering.

PASSHE’s plan would use $10 million for direct financial aid to social services students. Each student would save an average of $1,500 per year. Pell-eligible (high-need) students could receive about $5,000, for an average total of $6,500 per year. 

Lowering the cost to get a degree would enable more people to begin their education for jobs providing social services. Affordability is especially important for rural and urban students. Increasing financial aid also lowers student debt, another incentive to enter a career field that traditionally has a lower starting wage. 

Additionally, PASSHE is requesting a 3.8% inflationary ($21 million) increase that, in combination with the $112 million for student support, would enable the Board of Governors to consider freezing the basic in-state undergraduate tuition rate for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year.

The Power of PASSHE Universities
As Pennsylvania’s public university system, PASSHE universities are major educators of social services workers. More than 3,000 social services students are attending PASSHE universities, and more than 9,000 graduates are working in the commonwealth.
Across the System, amazing students are sharing their stories of preparing for careers helping others.

For more information about the State System’s plan to address labor shortages in the six high-growth fields of education, nursing, computer science, engineering, social services and business, or to see a budget request summary, visit the Advocacy Resource Center.​
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