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Readiness for Practice of Newly Qualified Social Workers

Evaluation Study for the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)

The first year after qualifying is widely recognised as being extremely important for social workers. The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) commissioned Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), along with the Centre of Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), to carry out an evaluation of the readiness for practice and the experiences of support and learning of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) during their first period of employment.

The social work profession in Scotland faces a challenging agenda for change with, and including: the introduction of self-directed support (Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013); the integration of health and social care (Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act); changes to the children’s hearing system following (Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011); the impact of full GIRFEC roll-out following the implementation of Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014; and the anticipated changes to the provision of criminal justice social work following the Scottish Government’s decision to opt for a fourth option in its recent consultation on the future of community justice in Scotland.

To support the workforce in achieving the relevant knowledge and skills required to practice effectively in the contemporary field of social work, the SSSC is developing a national learning strategy. Received as an innovative and progressive approach to professional learning, it is expected to encompass advanced learning through robust qualifying programmes and national post-qualifying pathways.

This national evaluation of NQSWs is only the second study of its kind to be carried out in Scotland. The only previous evaluative study focusing on NQSWs readiness for practice was conducted in 1996 when the social work landscape was very different (see Marsh and Triseliotis, 1996). Indeed, the pace of change from 1996 in terms of legislation, service provision and workforce development has been significant in its scope.