Anxious and unprepared: the lot of NQSWs, research finds

A third of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) do not receive a proper induction when starting their first job, research has found.

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A third of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) do not receive a proper induction when starting their first job, research has found.

On top of this, the frequency of formal supervision often falls short of the recommended minimum of once a month, according to the Social Care Workforce Research Unit’s report.

However, the use of personal development plans has almost doubled, which the authors attribute to the programmes of support for NQSWs.

Two-thirds of first-year graduates in England have found social work jobs, but around 15% are still looking for a job some months after graduating.

Many new graduates are going straight into child protection work, despite the fact that they would not all have had access to relevant placement opportunities while studying.

The report looked at the support given to NQSWs in the workplace and compared this with the “readiness to practise” of social work students.

It found directors of children’s services were generally less satisfied with the quality of their NQSWs than those in adult services, and many would like to see students specialising at an earlier stage.

The issues causing social work graduates the most anxiety, across a range of settings, were:

• Knowledge of mental health conditions

• Knowledge of child protection

• How to deal with hostility, aggression and conflict

• Assessing risk

• Preparing reports for legal proceedings.

“In deciding to examine separately the perceptions of new graduates as to the fit of their professional education to their tasks, and then the responses and opinions of managers and employers as to the appropriateness of their new employees’ preparedness for their roles, it has proved possible to quickly identify the points of agreement – and those of disagreement,” said Maggie Kirby-Barr, member of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit’s service user and carer advisory group.

“I hope the disparities will be studied to consider how bridges might be built to span the divides.”

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