Supervision, support and professional development for newly qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand
Keywords:Newly qualified social workers, supervision, professional development
INTRODUCTION: Many social work professional bodies and regulators mandate regular supervision and professional development. 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) are, in their first two years of practice, to enter professional social work. A survey of managers/supervisors and NQSWs in Aotearoa New Zealand about the readiness to practise of recent graduates was conducted.
FINDINGS: Questions about supervision and professional development 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 by supervisors was either very infrequent or entirely absent from the professional development of NQSWs.
IMPLICATIONS: Study findings revealed great variability in the formal supervision and other supports available for NQSWs which may impact on retention and practitioner wellbeing. More integrated systems of supervision, peer support and planned professional development are needed.
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