Supervision and professional development support for newly qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand
Keywords:supervision, newly qualified social workers, professional development
INTRODUCTION: Many social work professional bodies and regulators mandate regular supervision. Supervision is believed to support continuing development of professional skills, safeguarding of competent and ethical practice, oversight of the practitioner’s work for adherence to organisational expectations, and support for practitioner wellbeing.
METHOD: Phase two of the Enhancing the Readiness to Practice of Newly-Qualified Social Workers (Enhance R2P) project employed a mixed methods study (surveys and interviews) to explore how well prepared newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) in their first two years of practice are to enter professional social work. A survey of managers /supervisors and newly qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand about the readiness to practice of recent graduates was conducted. The survey design included a replication of a similar study carried out in England.
FINDINGS: Questions about supervision were included in the survey and in interviews with both NQSWs and supervisors/managers. Around half of NQSWs were supervised at least once every two weeks, but another half were supervised monthly or less frequently. Observation of practice was either very infrequent or entirely absent from the professional supervision of NQSWs.
IMPLICATIONS: Study findings revealed great variability in the formal supervision and other supports available for NQSWs which may impact on retention. More integrated systems of supervision, peer support and planned professional development are needed.
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