Plumbing the brain drain of South African social workers migrating to the UK : challenges for social service providers
Please cite as follows:
Engelbrecht, L. K. 2006. Plumbing the brain drain of South African social workers migrating to the UK: Challenges for social service providers. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 42(2):127-146.
The original publication is available at http://socialwork.journals.ac.za
In its first decade of democracy South Africa lost a considerable number of its social workers to the United Kingdom. In general the reality of this fact and its impact are acknowledged both informally and officially. However, little empirical or comprehensive data is available on the phenomenon and its implications. Research on the migration of South African social workers to the United Kingdom was consequently undertaken to uncover generalisations and identify challenges that social service providers will need to meet in future if South African social workers are to be retained in the country. A sample consisting of 65 South Africans currently practising as social workers in the UK was investigated. The key finding of the research was that the social workers who migrated to the UK represent a lost generation, who may not easily be regained for social service delivery in South Africa. The challenges that local service providers will need to meet in order to retain the generation of remaining and prospective social workers in South Africa are presented as the other side of the effect of the brain drain phenomenon on local social work. These challenges entail, among other things, that social service providers need to establish a culture of healthy human resource management, including practices aimed at collective retention strategies that are sustainable and proactive.