Matters of professional identity

Scott Grant, Trish McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Very little is known about the occupational experiences of newly-qualified social workers (NQSWs) in Scotland. We know little about their transition into new professional roles, and even less about how they graft new skills, knowledge and values after the point of qualification. These factors matter as new practitioners enter a field where techno-rational principles of New Public Management continue to dominate the regulation of working practices. The professionalisation of roles and tasks mean that particular skills and knowledge on technical and procedural issues are often valued more by managers and agencies, at the cost of neglecting the professional learning and development of staff in areas of practice that can have the most impact on outcomes for service users. This paper will report on findings from stage 1 of a five-year longitudinal study tracing the development of newly-qualified social workers as they progress in their professional careers in Scotland. Initial findings suggest that NQSWs feel confident and prepared for the challenges of contemporary practice; however, the provision of post-qualifying pathways for specialism remains a concern for NQSWs keen to develop their knowledge and skills. Quality of social work education and employer support are rated positively. However, majority of NQSWs appear to seek advice and guidance from experienced staff more than managers. NQSWs also rely more on colleagues than managers for emotional support and provision of informal learning (e.g. shadowing). NQSWs indicated they would have preferred their education to focus more specifically on specialist areas: adult community care, children & families and criminal justice – rather than generic approach currently offered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2018
Event8th European Conference of Social Work Research - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Apr 201820 Apr 2018 (Conference website.)


Conference8th European Conference of Social Work Research
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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