by Liz Beddoe
7th February 2018

Liz Beddoe June 2017

Liz Beddoe

Liz Beddoe, co-author of Transnational Social Work – out today – talks about the experiences of social workers practising in countries different to those where they gained their social work qualifications.

In the mid-2000s graduates from my social work degree programme in New Zealand began responding to the recruitment adverts for social workers to go to the United Kingdom and Ireland to work, particularly in children’s services. We were educating our social workers to work in a very different way, our child welfare legislation was very focused on family engagement and family decision making. And with a great deal of attention on addressing the needs of the disproportionate numbers of Maori children in care. I was curious about how our kiwi social workers fared working in a very different context. They told me that it was a huge culture shock but that they had great opportunities to learn and develop their practice.

I thought these experiences would be the basis of a great research project. So, in a long story cut short, I found colleagues in my department who were really keen to work with me on a project, Christa Fouche and Allen Bartley. Christa (a social worker) and Allen (a sociologist whose main research interest is in migration and transnationalism) were both migrants and knew the challenges of relocation. Our enthusiasm grew into a multi-phase and multi-country project which is still happening! We’ve talked to migrant social workers both new to practice in New Zealand and practitioners in other countries. We have researched with managers and supervisors also, along with some regulators. You can read more about our project ‘Crossing Borders – Migrant Professionals’ on our project blog.

Our research has taught us that social workers face challenges and opportunities settling into work in a new country. Apart from all the anticipated issues —hassles getting registration, unfamiliar law and policy and so forth—we also found experiences of racism and discrimination and more consistently our participants have described what we call ‘enduring professional dislocation’. Because it’s not just the different cultures of the new country that migrants face, but the very different professional and organisational cultures as well.

Along the way we have met some great people and made connections with researchers exploring the same issues in other countries- England, Ireland, Canada, Australia and other places. Many are members of the Research on Workforce Mobility in Social Care and Social Work Network. We were delighted to have some of these great researchers to contribute to Transnational Social Work.

Our project hasn’t finished yet. We’ve revealed the challenges faced by migrant social workers in New Zealand and we want to focus on solutions.

With our research fellow Shajimon Peter, himself a transnational social worker, we’re currently analysing data from a project which aims to engage stakeholders – employers, supervisors, professional bodies- to develop strategies to help migrant social workers to settle and make the most of the knowledge, skills and rich experiences they bring.

BARTLEY + BEDDOE_HRTransnational Social Work: Opportunities and Challenges of a Global Profession, edited by Allen Bartley and Liz Beddoe, is publishing on 7 February 2018 and is available with 20% discount on the Policy Press website. Order here for just £60.00.

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