In 2020, IFSW Europe established a project to support and involve social workers who are new to the profession. This focused on students in their final year of studies and social workers in the first five years of their employment. Member organisations were invited to appoint a new social worker to the project group which has met together regularly over the last twelve months. The project group quickly identified significant concerns about the transition period when students move into social work employment, and they set out to gather information about peoples’ experiences of this transition period.
From 2020-2021, this project has been co-directed by Omar Mohamed and Siobhan Maclean, with significant support from Herbert Paulischin and IFSW Europe Executive. The New Social Workers Project Group has consisted of New Social Workers with significant contributions from Armenia, Austria, Georgia, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and the UK. – and has previously had contributions from Bulgaria, Israel, Lithuania, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Switzerland, and Turkey.
What we have done so far:
The project group has gathered a significant amount of information, through a three-stage process of project group meetings, an online survey, and conversations with new social workers. In total more than 850 new social workers from 30 countries across Europe have provided information about their transition into social work.
The project has identified significant concerns around professional training not preparing students for the social work role; poor quality placements / internships; difficulties with securing employment and a lack of support from employers in the early stages of a social workers’ career. There were also concerns that the social work role can be very fluid which makes moving into the profession potentially difficult.
The group has worked together during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was clear through the information gathering processes that the pandemic has impacted on social workers joining the profession. There were both positives and negatives highlighted from the perspective of new workers. However, the project group felt that most of the difficulties highlighted around the transition into social work did not relate specifically to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project has also highlighted what new social workers see as helping them through the transition period. Intervision was seen as particularly helpful in supporting new workers to reflect on their practice, their learning and the emotions arising from their work. Peer support; supervision; ongoing training; caseload or workload reduction; formal induction processes; shadowing; mentoring and coaching were also seen as very valuable.
The project group has drawn on all the information gathered to develop guidelines which will support new social workers in their transition into employment. The guidelines provide advice for new social workers, experienced social workers, employers, Universities, and professional associations.
The new social workers project group has gathered and shared a wide range of data about social workers making the transition into the profession. The group would like to continue to work together on issues that will support the work of IFSW Europe.
This project will continue to be directed by Omar Mohamed, with support from Herbert Paulischin and IFSW Europe Executive. The New Social Workers Project Group continues to grow, adapt, and develop, and will be focusing on the following activities for the next year of this project:
- Developing a strategy paper for IFSW Europe member organisations to use the information we have gathered to inform employers about supporting new social workers with this transition from education to employment across Europe
- Developing an academic article to share the context, methods, findings, discussion, and recommendations we have gathered through our project on the transition from education to employment
- Connecting with various international and European events and initiatives to further disseminate our data
- Shadowing IFSW Europe representatives to different European organisations to support the representatives in the work they are doing in organisations such as the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and different IFSW Europe Commissions
- Organizing an in-person event with representatives from the European Parliament, European Social Network, European Commission, and IFSW Europe Executive to lead on conversations regarding the transition from education to employment
- Supporting the project to expand on a global scale, connecting in with the upcoming Global Summit Conference
- Presenting at future conferences
- Organizing monthly international exchange webinars on the topic of the transition from education to employment (please see registration link)
Please see this video linked where a group of the new social workers involved in this project will present some of the initial findings of this project:
Please see this Registration Link to book onto our monthly webinars where we will arrange international exchanges based on the experience of being a new social worker during the transition from education to employment in different European countries – https://forms.office.com/r/JJ8Mvkj5sr
The project directors report to following:
Ana Radulescu – President of IFSW Europe
John Brennan – Vice-President of IFSW Europe