Readiness to practice social work in Aotearoa New Zealand: perceptions of students and educators

Liz Beddoe, Kathryn Hay, Jane Maidment, Neil Ballantyne and Shayne Walker

New research article

The readiness to practice of newly qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand is a contested subject. In recent years, criticism by public figures including government ministers and the New Zealand government-appointed Children’s Commissioner have stimulated debate within the profession. Media critique of social work practice has highlighted many of the challenges faced by social workers. Significant policy developments, in particular a substantive government review of child protection services, have also increased the scrutiny of the capabilities of social workers.

A timely 3-year multi-phase project ‘Enhancing readiness to practise’ is the first large study of social work education to be funded in Aotearoa New Zealand. The enhanceR2P research project is a collaboration between social work researchers from the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, the University of Auckland, Massey University, the University of Canterbury, and the University of Otago. Read more about the study here.

The findings reported in our new article have been derived from data collected in a series of focus group interviews with social work educators and students, in which they reflected on curricula in their programmes and explored their perceptions of readiness to practice. Overall, educators were positive about the preparedness of their graduating students but held concerns over the organisational environments they would enter. Students were more ambivalent about their readiness, but hopeful and committed to ongoing learning. Development of programmes to support graduates to transition to employment is recommended by the Enhancing Readiness to Practice research team.

Read article in full here

Beddoe, L.,Hay,K.,Maidment,J.,Ballantyne,N ., & Walker,S. (2018) Readiness to practice social work in Aotearoa New Zealand: Perceptions of students and educators, Social Work Education, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2018.1497152

* email Liz if the free access copies have all been utilised at

Meet the team on our project blog


About socialworknz

I'm a social work researcher in Aotearoa New Zealand
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