Readiness for practice of newly qualified social workers: experiences of supervisors at social service organisations in the Western Cape, South Africa

Wolfaardt, Katelyn Anne (2022-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The readiness of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) for practice appears to be a growing area of research, however, there is little focus on the professional identities of NQSWs, and a lack of relevant literature on the readiness of NQSWs within a South African context. Global research indicates that NQSWs are being prepared in some skills and competencies, however, that they do lack skills and competencies in other regards. Readiness is a concept that is interpreted differently amongst various entities, and thus, it is impossible to satisfy all individuals’ expectations as to what constitutes an NQSW that is ready for practice. NQSWs enter a difficult working environment and experience stress and anxiety as they are new in the profession, posing additional needs and challenges when they are not fully ready for practice. Supervisors are in an ideal position to identify how NQSWs handle this transition into the workplace and whether there are specific tasks or challenges that they struggle with when entering practice. With little insight into this phenomenon within the South African context, it is difficult to understand how NQSWs can be better prepared and assisted in transitioning from being a student to a professional and enhancing their readiness for practice. In light of this, the researcher’s study aimed to gain an understanding of supervisors’ experiences of newly qualified social workers’ readiness for practice at social service organisations in the Western Cape, South Africa. This research followed a qualitative approach with the intent of obtaining insight and understanding into the experiences of social work supervisors on the readiness of NQSWs for practice. Descriptive and exploratory research designs were employed to gain a deeper understanding into the subjective experiences of social work supervisors on the readiness of NQSWs for practice, as there is a lack of research on this topic within a South African context. Social work supervisors as research participants were recruited through both purposive and snowball sampling methods. Fifteen participants were interviewed for this study with the researcher utilising semi-structured interviews via telephonic phone calls when collecting data. The researcher utilised a thematic content analysis approach when analysing the data that was collected during the interviews. Within this research, there are two literature chapters. The first chapter described and explained the global and local context of NQSWs within the realm of the developmental theory of professional identity. The second literature chapter analysed contemporary international and South African research on the readiness (both covert and overt) of NQSWs for practice. These chapters provided the foundation for chapter four which presented the empirical study. Within this, the researcher presented the data that was collected from research participants and analysed their relative narratives against existing global and local research. These results enabled the researcher to draw relevant conclusions and recommendations which were presented in chapter five of this research. The main conclusions that the researcher was able to deduce from the findings was that readiness is a concept understood differently and thus an NQSW will never be seen as ‘ready’ by all individuals in society, due to their variations in perceptiveness as to what constitutes as ‘ready’. As a result, supervisors deem different competencies as necessary for NQSWs to have when entering practice. NQSWs appear to both have, and lack, specific competencies dependent on the Higher Education Institution (HEI) that they attended and, as a consequence, which competencies they focused on enhancing throughout their social work training. Specialised supervision can enhance NQSWs’ readiness for practice and enable them to transition better into the profession, however, supervisors are not always able to provide this more intensive and supportive style of supervision to NQSWs due to their own workloads. HEIs are not preparing NQSWs sufficiently for the realities of practice. Consequently, vast differences in the social work training offered at HEIs are observed in South Africa - supervisors are aware of these differences, which influence their decision as to whether they would employ an NQSW. Ensuring the readiness of NQSWs for practice should, however, not only be the responsibility of one sole entity, but rather, should consist of a collaborative approach shared amongst HEIs, supervisors, social service organisations, social work governing and statutory organisations and NQSWs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die gereedheid van nuut gekwalifiseerde maatskaplike werkers (NGMWs) vir die praktyk blyk 'n groeiende navorsingsgebied te wees, maar daar is min fokus op die professionele identiteit van NGMWs en 'n gebrek aan relevante literatuur oor die gereedheid van NGMWs binne 'n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Wereldwye navorsing dui aan dat NGMWs in sommige vaardighede en vermoens voorberei word, maar dat hulle nie oor ander vaardighede en vermoens beskik nie. Gereedheid is 'n konsep wat tussen verskillende entiteite verskillend geinterpreteer word, en dit is dus onmoontlik om aan alle individue se verwagtinge te voldoen oor hoe 'n NGMW wat gereed is en praktiseer moet lyk. NGMWs betree 'n moeilike werksomgewing en ervaar spanning en angs, aangesien dat hulle nuut in die beroep is, wat ekstra behoeftes en uitdagings bied as hulle nie heeltemal gereed is vir die praktyk nie. Supervisors is in 'n ideale posisie om te identifiseer hoe NGMWs hierdie oorgang na die werkplek hanteer en of daar spesifieke take of uitdagings is waarmee hulle sukkel wanneer hulle die praktyk betree. Met min insig in hierdie verskynsel binne 'n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks, is dit moeilik om te verstaan hoe NGMWs voorberei en bygestaan kan word in die oorgang van 'n student na 'n professionele persoon en om hul gereedheid vir praktyk te verbeter. In die lig hiervan, was die navorser se studie daarop gemik om begrip te kry van supervisors se ervarings van die nuut gekwalifiseerde maatskaplike werkers se gereedheid vir praktyk by maatskaplike diensorganisasies in die Wes-Kaap, Suid Afrika. Hierdie navorsing het 'n kwalitatiewe benadering gevolg met die doel om insig en begrip te verkry van die ervarings van maatskaplike werk supervisors oor die gereedheid van NGMWs vir praktyk. Verkennende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerpe is gebruik om 'n diepgaande begrip te verkry van die subjektiewe ervarings van maatskaplike werk supervisors oor die gereedheid van NGMWs vir die praktyk, aangesien daar 'n gebrek aan navorsing oor hierdie onderwerp binne 'n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks is. Supervisors as navorsingsdeelnemers is gewerf deur middel van doelgerigte en sneeubalsteekproefmetodes. Onderhoude was met vyftien deelnemers uitgever vir hierdie studie. Die navorser het van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude via telefoniese oproepe gebruik gemaak vir die insameling van data. Die navorser het 'n tematiese inhoudsanalise gebruik vir die ontleding van die data wat vanuit onderhoude ingesamel is. Hierdie navorsing het twee literatuurhoofstukke. Die eerste hoofstuk beskryf en verduidelik die wereldwye en plaaslike konteks van NGMWs binne die area van die ontwikkelingsteorie van professionele identiteit. In die tweede literatuurhoofstuk word internasionale en Suid-Afrikaanse navorsing oor die gereedheid (beide kovert en overt) van NGMWs vir die praktyk ontleed. Hierdie hoofstukke het die grondslag gele vir hoofstuk vier waarin die empiriese studie aangebied word. Hier het die navorser die data wat ingesamel is, voorgestel en narratiewe ontleed aan die hand van bestaande globale en plaaslike navorsing. Hierdie resultate het die navorser in staat gestel om relevante gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings te maak wat in hoofstuk vyf van hierdie navorsing aangebied word. Die belangrikste gevolgtrekkings wat die navorser uit die bevindinge kon aflei, is dat gereedheid 'n konsep is wat verskillend verstaan word, en 'n NGMW sal dus nooit deur alle individue in die samelewing as 'gereed' beskou word nie, vanwee hul variasies in waarneming ten opsigte van wat as 'gereed' beskou word. As gevolg hiervan verlang supervisors verskillende bevoegdhede wat nodig is vir die NGMW's tydens die aanvang van hulle praktyk. NGMWs beskik oor spesifieke vaardighede wat afhang van die hoer onderwysinstelling (HOI) wat hulle bygewoon het, en watter vaardighede daardie instellings op gefokus het tydens hul opleiding in maatskaplike werk. Gespesialiseerde supervisie kan NGMWs se gereedheid vir die praktyk verbeter en hulle in staat stel om die professie beter te betreë, maar supervisors is nie altyd in staat om hierdie meer intensiewe en ondersteunende styl van supervisie aan NGMW's te verskaf nie, weens hul eie werkladings. HOIs berei NGMWs nie genoegsaam voor vir die werklikheid van die praktyk nie. Daar is groot verskille in die maatskaplikewerk-opleiding wat by HOIs in Suid-Afrika aangebied word waarvan supervisors bewus is, wat hulle beinvloed in hul besluit of hulle 'n NGMW sal aanstel. Die versekering van die gereedheid van NGMWs vir die praktyk behoort nie slegs die verantwoordelikheid van een enkele entiteit te wees nie, maar moet eerder bestaan uit 'n gesamentlike benadering tussen HOIs, supervisors, maatskaplike diensorganisasies, maatskaplikewerk-bestuurs- en statutere organisasies en NGMWs.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124617
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