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It has been an age long ago when researchers, scholars and other extension workers brings to the table the fact about the use of the  terms “human services” and “social work” which appear to mean almost the same thing facilitating and supporting the transition and transformation of human livelihood and empowerment. Both fields involve working to help others and performing services that help solve social problems and for better preparedness to face challenges. However, the particulars of work in human services and social work introduce distinctions that help explain their differences as well. We matched up the human services versus social work fields to illustrate these differences.

Human services is a broadly defined field that encompasses the aim of meeting human needs. It is an interdisciplinary field of study that strives to prevent and address problems as well as improve the overall quality of life for clients. Someone who works in the human services industry will work to assist individuals and communities in their everyday lives. Employment for human service professionals is experiencing rapid growth, and many opportunities are available in the job market for those with a human services degree.

The latter, that’s Social work is concerned with the effort to empower and enable people. Social justice is a main priority of the social work field, and those who study it are often working with those directly affected by disenfranchisement and other complex social problems. As in human services, employment opportunities for social work are diverse and in demand.

The word Development explains the growth of humans throughout the lifespan, from conception to death and the scientific study of human development seeks to understand and explain how and why people change throughout life.This includes all aspects of human growth, including physical, emotional, intellectual, social, perceptual, and personality development.

The word development is a relative term depending on the context and circumstances, it is used, but It’s vital to know that certain questions ring a bell like: What does development involve?  And What are its effects?

In the process of addressing the issues and problems associated with human livelihood and economic empowerment for development in their respective communities, region, nation and globally, that necessitated  the reason why world leaders came together at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2000 to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration .

The Declaration committed nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty, and set out a series of eight time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs). And also At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.


Basic Concept of Social Work and Human Services

It is worth to note that though the two fields share many similarities, human services and social work ultimately implemented in different ways to address the needs of those they serve. A human services, professional focus on broader work within a community, meaning that they work in community-based settings and usually coordinate services whilst a  Social workers, on the other hand, work directly with clients to implement social programs. They can also serve as counselors and make necessary services available to their clients.

Many positions in human services are in a managerial capacity. You might find yourself working as an administrator in an advocacy organization; these human service organizations often work to support under served communities. As a professional or paraprofessional in the human services field, you will help individuals and communities gain access to basic needs, such as food and shelter, and will do so by working in an administrative role.

In social work, you focus more on individuals than on an entire community. This means that you will often work directly with your clients to help them gain access to services within a community that address their specific problems, such as abuse or addiction.The scope of both Social work and human services   cover a variety of specific areas, such as: Advocacy, Community organizing, Families, Children, crises counselling and intervention, Mental health and Public policy etc.

 A career in both human services and social work will provide you with a great way to get involved in social good and allow you to fulfill your goals of helping others. But while there are some similarities between the two social service careers, there are also many differences. The Careers for Social Good series, we will explore these differences in order to help direct individuals who are trying to find the best career path.

Students who pursue a human services degree are usually interested in working in the social services field in an administrative or managerial capacity. Often, these individuals have years of experience in any kind of social services profession and are looking to begin working in a higher-level position. Nonprofit organizations, for-profit service providers with a social mission and government agencies are just a few of the different places human services professionals could find themselves working. Human services professionals are prepared to work as human services managers, program developers, researchers, planners, supervisors, fundraisers and grant writers, to name a few of the possible career paths.

Both human services and social work are extremely important to the social services world, but they serve the needs of people in different ways. A human services professional focuses on the bigger picture. For example, they will help plan programs to serve the needs of a particular population, they will work in administrative roles making sure things run smoothly in their particular social services agency, and they will provide supervision and direction to the individuals who work with them. Social workers often work in administrative roles, too, but they can also work directly with clients to carry out social programs, connecting them with necessary services, assessing their needs and providing counseling, which human services professionals do not.

If you are interested in an administrative role that involves planning, supervision and research, a career in human services might be a good fit for you. If you want the flexibility to either work directly with the populations you would like to help on a day-to-day basis or work in administrative capacities, then social work might fit your goals.

All social services professions are important in promoting social good and helping people in need. Each career provides a different and unique way to serve vulnerable populations. To decide which career path in social services is best for you, you must first imagine how you would like to spend your working hours and figure out which tasks would be the most interesting and rewarding to you personally.

The Challenges of Development

Some of the major challenges in our world today ranges from issues like gender inequality and  environmental destruction, to ending poverty, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS,  bad governance, building institutional capacity, and recovering from disaster .

For ease of presentation, the challenges are categorized into seven(7) as shown below:

1)       Women Empowerment -                                                                                                                                               Q: What can we do to help reduce gender discrimination and inequality?

2) Better and quality human livelihood and standard of living for a  Sustainable Development –                                                     Q:How can we best help people help themselves for human sustenance?  

 3) Environmental Protection, Climate Change and Access to Energy-  

 Q:How can we protect our environment and reduce poverty simultaneously?

4) Mitigating and eradicating/reversing HIV/Aids and other epidemic diseases-  Q: What can we do to stop HIV and other epidemic diseases that threaten human existence that create alarming health hazard risk? 
5) Poverty Alleviation- mitigating and eradicating poverty- 
Q: As Countries develop, how can they ensure the most vulnerable people are not forgotten?
 6) Building Democratic Societies to ensure human needs,dignity and respect are met -                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Q: How can we build democratic Institutions  that response to the needs of all parts of the society?

7) Disaster Management/Crises Prevention and Enabling Recovery-

Q: How can we make developing Countries resilient to threats posed by conflict and disaster?


4.Measures in addressing such challenges(New direction in Social Services).

For a well coordinated presentation, the direction in social services is being addressed in accordance with the seven(7) aforementioned challenges as shown below:

Q: What can we do to help reduce gender discrimination and inequality?                                                            

The UNDP focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment not only as human rights, but also because they are a pathway to achieving both the Millennium Development and Sustainable Development goals and undertake certain activities such as;

·         Coordinating global and national efforts to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into poverty reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and environment and sustainable development.

·         The global network ensures that women have a real voice in all governance institutions, from the judiciary to the civil service, as well as in the private sector and civil society, so they can participate equally with men in public dialogue and decision-making and influence the decisions that will determine the future of their families and countries.

Q:How can we best help people help themselves for human sustenance?

·         UNDP assists partners to achieve sustainable, people-centered development through an integrated approach that links policy with planning and programming, for promoting results based management, instating quality safeguards, monitoring and evaluating the impact and equally learning from failures and successes. 
  ·         UNDP introduces systems, from the project level up, to entrench evaluation, learning and knowledge management strongly in the organization by being more open, innovative, knowledge and evidence driven. This eventually supports effective development cooperation, South-South and Triangular Cooperation and higher quality programming and action.-(agriculture, microfinance, partisan traders and fishermen, small holder farmers etc.)

Q:How can we protect our environment and reduce poverty simultaneously?

·         UNDP strengthens national capacity to manage the environment in a sustainable manner to advance poverty reduction efforts. Through our country teams in 135 developing countries, we help our partners build their capacity to integrate environmental considerations into development plans and strategies, establish effective partnerships, secure resources, and implement programmes to support sustainable, low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways.

·         The poor are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and lack of access to clean, affordable energy services. UNDP helps countries strengthen their capacity to address these challenges at the global, national and community levels, seeking out and sharing best practices, providing innovative policy advice and linking partners through pilot projects.

Q: What can we do to stop HIV and other epidemic diseases that threatens human existence that create alarming health hazard risk?

·         UNDP supports countries to integrate attention to HIV in national planning, gender equality and MDG efforts; promote enabling human rights and legislative environments to reduce vulnerability to HIV and strengthen governance and coordination of national responses; and strengthen implementation of complex, multilateral and multi-sectoral funds and programmes including those financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

·         Globally there are 34 million people living with HIV. While new HIV infections have declined by 20 percent between 2001 and 2011, the HIV epidemic continues to outpace the response. UNDP works with countries to understand and respond to the development dimensions of HIV and health, recognizing that action outside the health sector can contribute significantly to better health outcomes.

Q: As Countries develop, how can they ensure the most vulnerable people are not forgotten?

Economic growth will not reduce poverty, improve equality and produce jobs unless it is inclusive. Inclusive growth is also essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The globalization process, when properly managed, becomes an important ingredient for inclusive growth. In this context,

·         UNDP works to make real improvements in people’s lives, opening up their choices and opportunities.

·         UNDP promotes inclusive and sustainable human development and works to reduce poverty in all its dimensions. We focus our efforts on making growth and trade benefit everyone in developing countries.

Q: How can Countries build Democratic Institutions  that response to the needs of all parts of the society?

More countries than ever before are working to build democratic governance. Their challenge is to;

·         Develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor, and that promote development. UNDP helps countries strengthen electoral and legislative systems, improve access to justice and public administration and develop a greater capacity to deliver basic services to those most in need.

·         Through its programs, UNDP brings people together within nations and around the world, fostering partnerships and sharing ways to promote participation, accountability and effectiveness at all levels. We aim to build effective and capable states that are accountable and transparent, inclusive and responsive -from elections to participation of women and the poor. Learn more about our work with the Youth.

Q: How can we make developing Countries resilient to threats posed by conflict and disaster?

Building resilience to conflicts and disasters is at the very heart of UNDP's work. UNDP helps Countries to;

·         Prevent armed conflict, alleviate the risk and effects of disasters from natural hazards and build back better and stronger when crises happen. When a crisis strikes, UNDP ensures that while the humanitarian response focuses on the immediate lifesaving needs of a population, those responsible also work towards longer-term development objectives. This Approach is called Early Recovery

·         UN helps more than 80 countries to strengthen development gains in post-crisis countries by helping governments respond to disasters and mitigate the risk they pose; addressing the underlying causes of violence; reinforcing governance and the rule of law; supporting livelihoods; and by using short-term employment schemes that allow local people to rebuild critical infrastructure following disaster.



·         The number of people now living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.

·         The number of people in the working middle class—living on more than $4 a day—nearly tripled between 1991 and 2015.

·         The proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has dropped by almost half since 1990.

·         The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide fell by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000.

·         Gender parity in primary school has been achieved in the majority of countries.

·         The mortality rate of children under-five was cut by more than half since 1990.

·         Since 1990, maternal mortality fell by 45 percent worldwide.

·         Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015.

·         New HIV infections fell by approximately 40 percent between 2000 and 2013.

·         By June 2014, 13.6 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, an immense increase from just 800,000 in 2003.

·         Between 2000 and 2013, tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives.

·         Worldwide 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation.

·         Globally, 147 countries have met the MDG drinking water target, 95 countries have met the MDG sanitation target and 77 countries have met both.

·         Official development assistance from developed countries increased 66 percent in real terms from 2000 and 2014, reaching $135.2 billion.


Conclusively, the concerted efforts of national governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector through Social Careers have helped expand hope and opportunity for people in communities, region, nations and around the world towards development trajectory though the challenges are still there on the walls.The job is yet to be concluded as  millions of people are still out there with the dying need ;to end hunger and poverty, achieving full gender discrimination and equality, improving health services and getting every child into school. This has further created awareness and sense of strategic focus that made global leaders and governments to hang heads and shift the world onto a sustainable path for the betterment of humanity which brings about the formation of the Mellanium development and Sustainable Development Goals.The global Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), or Global Goals, will guide policy and funding for the next 15 years, beginning with a historic pledge on the 25 September, 2015 to end poverty everywhere permanently.

So therefore, based on the aforementioned complementary role of both Social Workers and Human Services personnel, then one can conclude without doubt that they facilitate, spur and Aids development by enhancing and supporting human livelihood for better standard of living and Sustainable Development.


Allieu Badara Kabia,             PhD. Research Fellow ,         School of Economics and Business, Liaoning University              and doubled as                                                               Director,               Liaoning University's Society of International Academic Research(LUSIAR), Shenyang PR China.



(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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  • China's Move in Deepening Poverty Alleviation 2016-12-2 21:05

    财神: Sure, i will be waiting for that. How china alleviate poverty from the nation? what are the main tools that lead a nation towards prosperity? i wanna  ...
    You are welcome, will surely do. Cheers

  • China's Move in Deepening Poverty Alleviation 2016-12-2 14:36

    Kabisco751: Thanks boss, indeed will surely include some of  those tools/formulas adopted but that will be in the part 2 of this Article. I deliberately left that ...
    Sure, i will be waiting for that. How china alleviate poverty from the nation? what are the main tools that lead a nation towards prosperity? i wanna see some stuffs from you. good luck.

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