Researchers to look at real-world experiences of new social workers

We have commissioned social work researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to carry out a five-year national study of the experiences of newly qualified social workers (NQSW) in Scotland.

SSSC acronym logo - colourThe study will explore how new social workers develop in their early careers using a national online survey, focus groups and in-depth interviews. Scott Grant, Lecturer in Social Work in the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Allied Health Sciences at GCU will lead the study.

It will look at how NQSWs get support, training and development in diverse practice settings to cope with the challenges of their role while staying empathetic, reflexive and resilient. The study will explore professional development and work-based experiences, analysing the key themes of:

  • developing resilience and value commitment
  • retention and recruitment
  • navigating dynamic practice roles and contexts
  • professional development, identity and learning.

By looking at the ongoing development needs of social workers as they progress through their careers, the study will help to establish some key performance benchmarks for the social service profession as a whole. A national understanding will provide crucial insights into workforce change during the introduction of significant policies, such as integration and self-directed support.

Other stakeholders involved in the study include Scottish Government, social service employers and higher education institutions.

Mr Grant said:

‘Newly qualified social workers from across Scotland will be the first group of people that we look into in this study. We will be looking for first-hand experience of employment, how professional skills and practice are developed, how new practitioners are supported in practice and how new staff develop a professional identity.

‘This new study will provide much deeper and richer analysis of the lived experience of young professionals as they enter the field for the first time.’

The research builds on a previous study of NQSWs, carried out by GCU, which helped inform a national review of social work education in Scotland.

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