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Utilization of manpower at children's aid society of Vancouver, B.C. Adams, Robert L.

Abstract

This study was prompted by a staff-shortage crisis in Social Work. Because it is apparent that this manpower crisis cannot be alleviated by an increase in professional recruitment, methods must be found by which to utilize effectively persons without professional standing. Our assumptions in this study, therefore, are firstly, that tasks presently performed by professionally-trained social workers can be categorized according to specific criteria and secondly, that these tasks can then be assigned to various levels of staff, both professional and non-professional. This study deals with the former assumption, the latter assumption will be left to further research. The agency from which our study was drawn was the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver, B.C. The specific area of study in the agency was Services to Children-in-Care. As criteria for differentiating tasks we chose "worker autonomy" and "task complexity". In essence these are, respectively, the functioning of the worker in relation to his internalized professional standards, and the relative amount of activity inherent in a task. We then devised a list of tasks which we presented to a random sample of line workers, with the major aim of determining whether or not the tasks were actually performed. The list of tasks was revised on suggestions from the respondents and presented a second time. This indicated the representative nature of the tasks. In order to rate each task as to its degree of complexity and the degree of autonomy required by a worker to perform it, we selected twelve judges at random six from Children's Aid Society Staff and six from a list supplied by the British Columbia Association of Social Workers. The judges rated each task on a five-point scale for each of our two criteria. In analyzing the data we were concerned primarily with the degree of agreement among the judges as to their ratings of each task on the two criteria of "worker autonomy" and "task complexity". Our findings showed a high percentage of agreement among judges on both criteria for most tasks. This indicates that the majority of tasks can be differentiated. The findings also showed a high degree of relationship between "worker autonomy" and "task complexity" -- that is, if a task was judged highly autonomous it was usually also judged highly complex. This points to the possible redundancy of the second criterion, "task complexity". In other words, it appears that "worker autonomy" may be the important measuring instrument by which tasks can be differentiated in order to be assigned to personnel of differing competence.

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