Journal Article

Experiences of Early-Career Social Workers in Ireland

Suzanne Guerin, Catherine Devitt and Bairbre Redmond

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 8, pages 2467-2484
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Experiences of Early-Career Social Workers in Ireland

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The paper examines the experiences of early-career social workers in Ireland. A sample of seventy-three graduates from the postgraduate social work training programme delivered by University College Dublin completed a postal survey designed to explore their early-career experiences. This sample represented almost 50 per cent of the possible sample of graduates from the programme between 1998 and 2002, a cohort in professional practice for periods of two to six years. Key findings present a picture of a group of social workers whose expectations have been met regarding the profession. In addition, influenced by wider changes in the profession and the then booming economy, the group had experienced a high degree of job mobility. The core findings, however, relate to the impact that work-related, role-related and client-related factors have on participants' experiences of the profession. It was noted that client-related factors were cited as positive experiences almost twice as often as they were cited as negative experiences, in spite of the fact that just over half of the sample reported they had experienced violent or aggressive client behaviour. Understanding the experiences of early-career social workers has the potential to provide important insights into the issues affecting their engagement with the profession, and to help trainers and managers to support this group effectively, thus maximising the retention of this group.

Keywords: Training; professional experience; early career

Journal Article.  6893 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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