Demand “Growing Exponentially” for Bilingual MSWs, Says 2012 Graduate
A 2012 alumnus of the School of Social Work, Russell Chertok, and his Long Island-based business, Visiting Counselors of New York (VCNY), are profiled in the February 3, 2019 business section of Newsday.
Since launching VCNY, an in-home counseling service for seniors and adults with disabilities five years ago—two years after he graduated from the Columbia School of Social Work—Russell Chertok reports that his business is doing well, with an annual growth rate of 40 percent, but that he faces an ongoing challenge: finding MSWs who are fluent in both English and Spanish. With only one Spanish-speaking social worker among his 24 full- and part-time independent contractors, he has had to turn away a dozen prospective clients, he reports.
Apparently, the challenge Chertok faces is not unusual among firms seeking bilingual social workers on Long Island, “where hospitals and schools, with their myriad benefits, including health insurance and vacation time, tend to enjoy the hiring edge,” the article reports.
Experts consulted for the article offer Chertok advice ranging from casting a wider net to trying out translators. Chertok gives a thumbs up to the former idea while rejecting the latter, citing privacy concerns and the need to maintain professional ethics.
When we reached him for comment, Chertok confirmed that “bilingual social workers are desperately needed in our field.” He advised students to make the most of their language abilities or to develop that second language while they have the chance.
“Students who are bilingual, or are willing to invest the time now in becoming bilingual, are going to have more opportunities available to them when they graduate,” he said. “It’s a skill that will give them an edge when competing with others who have otherwise similar skills, education, and experience.”
Interested in reading more about Russell Chertok’s enterprise? Check out the article.