Newly Qualified Social Workers

The College of Social Work is leading a number of areas of reform, from helping universities select the right people at interview, to advising on the curriculum, to ensuring that social workers in practice receive the support they need to operate effectively. This article is aimed at helping newly quailed social workers (NQSWs) understand how the changes will affect them. It is also aimed at helping them access resources to support them.

The College is establishing a Community of Interest for NQSWs  which will be available shortly. NQSWs will be charged at the Affiliate rate of just £10 a year until you get your first job: join us now. See our membership benefits here.

The support and development opportunities which social workers get at the outset of their career can fundamentally shape their practice for the future.

Both the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Skills For Care (SfC) have worked with partners to develop programs to support the needs of NQSWs in their first year in practice. Both of the frameworks contain outcome statements which NQSWs should be able to achieve in their first year in practice. They also outline the support that NQSWs should receive such as supervision and workload management.

NQSW’s need not be employed by a local authority to be able to undertake an NQSW program. As long as the work you do as an NQSW enables you to use your social work skills, knowledge and values, and meet the outcome statements, you can be part of a program.

So what can NQSW’s expect from their first year in practice? Click on the links below to highlight more information and advice!

As a newly qualified social worker, what can I expect from supervision?

The Social Work Reform Board has published the Standards for Employers and Social Workers in England and Supervision Framework.

The standards refer to four key elements of effective supervision which encompass:

  • Quality of decision making and interventions
  • Line management and organizational accountability
  • Caseload and workload management
  • Identification of further personal learning, career and development opportunities

The Children’s Workforce Development Council has produced a Handbook for employers and social workers . Page 8 of this document outlines the supervision arrangements a newly qualified social worker on the NQSW programme is entitled to as:

‘Fortnightly supervision meetings of at least 90 minutes as a minimum for the first three months. If you agree this with your supervisor, these can reduce to a minimum of monthly after three months. Supervision should include time when you focus explicitly on demonstrating achievement against the NQSW outcome statements.’

This standard has been endorsed by the Social Work reform Board, and can be found in theSupervision Framework.

Skills for Care has produced a resource pack for supervision. They offer some guidance on how best you can make the most of supervision:

‘NQSWs are expected to prepare for supervision and be able to share and discuss with their supervisors:

  • their reflections on their practice, including what’s gone wrong
  • how they have accessed and used support in their work
  • their ability to implement personalisation and to maximise the participation and control that individual adults, families, carers, groups and communities have over their lives
  • how they have used training and development opportunities
  • their learning needs and how these will be met
  • the evidence they are collecting to demonstrate their achievement of the outcome statements.’

What opportunities do the recommendations of the social work reform board offer me as a newly qualified social worker?

The Social Work Reform Board has agreed to  introduce the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) for social workers in England. The developments on introducing ASYE are ongoing between Skills for Care, the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and the Social Work Reform Board. The programme is due to be implemented in a phased way from September 2012 and will replace the Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) programme. Once agreed, work on the PCF capabilities for ASYE will be handed to The College and embedded within the Professional Capabilities Framework already owned by The College. The College will work closely with partners on the implementation and support of the ASYE scheme.

Your CV and Career Development

Writing a good CV is a crucial part of the job seeking process. Always remember that employers are looking at numbers of CVs and yours must stand out by being clear concise, readable and accessible.  Having your up to date CV for reference can be a useful prompt if you are having a telephone discussion with the nominated representative of the employing organization.

Read guidance on writing your CV at https://www.gov.uk/

When an employer receives a lot of applications their first task will be to sift through them based on the evidence that the essential criteria have been met. When you are completing an application form, make sure your text covers all the areas identified in the Person Specification for that specific job and that you answer any questions asked. Make the most of your practice experience and anything you may have done prior to going to qualifying training in which you can demonstrate transferable skills.

How should I prepare for interviews?

Preparing for interviews is critically important and the following points can help you:

  • Research the job as fully as you can: client groups, geographical area, work setting, patterns of work, multi-disciplinary team or uni-professional team etc.
  • Research the employer.  Whatever kind of organisation it is, find out about it both as an employer and about the services it provides. For example, if you are going for a job in the NHS you may want to look up the staff survey results for that organisation. Other organisations may have staff satisfaction survey results published on their websites.
  • Make sure you are knowledgeable about the recent legislation, policy and practice issues in this specific area. Is there any recent research that is relevant? What are the implications of these changes for service users and carers?
  • Re-read the job description, the person specification and your application form. Think about what the interviewers are aiming to find out about you to decide if you are the right person for the job. It’s important to prepare for the kind of questions you might be asked.
  • Think of situations where you have used the skills that are described on the person specification, either in the context of your social work experience or elsewhere in your personal life you can draw from.
  • Dress appropriately. Always look professional in the context of whatever role you are applying for. Remember: you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
  • Make sure you know where the interview is being held and how long it will take you to get there. Make sure you know where to park and have enough change for the ticket machine, and so on. Plan the journey so you arrive in good time to take a few minutes to breathe prior to walking into the interview itself. These practical details will help your preparations for the interview itself.

Communitycare.co.uk have a resource for Newly qualified social workers: support and job advice.

Pass on your own Top Tips! Visit our forum page in the NQSW community of interest to add your own experiences in the “Tell us your Top Tips for Successful Interviews” section.

Where can I find advice?

Skills for Care has produced a resource pack for newly qualified social workers, as have the Children’s Workforce and Development Council, who have produced a NQSW Handbook for employers and social workers.
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Organisational Support

What should my organization be doing to support my workload as a newly qualified social worker?

The following useful information comes from the NQSW introduction for employers (p16) wich can be found in the Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) resource pack written by Skills for Care.

As new members of staff, NQSWs will have managed workloads. Their supervisor/line manager will want to assign work at a level of complexity and risk that is:

  • appropriate in terms of the knowledge, skills and abilities the NQSW has demonstrated during their registration qualification
  • safe for the people using services, carers and the NQSW
  • in line with the requirements of the organisation.’

The work assigned should also provide opportunities for the NQSW to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities and enable them to achieve all of the outcome statements. This may include arranging, or negotiating with the line manager, shadowing or co-working opportunities where skills and techniques are modelled by more experienced colleagues. In their first year of practice, NQSWs are not normally allocated highly complex or high-risk work. However, as the year progresses, it is expected that there will be an increase in the level of complexity in their workload.

Registration and Post Registration

What are the implications of me being registered with the Health Professions Council rather than the General Social Care Council?
The Health Professions Council work to 14 standards of proficiency that represents the minimum thresholds of fitness to practice These standards will be complemented by the Professional Capabilities Framework

This framework will underpin your career pathway in social work and link to e-CDP portfolio to support ongoing evidence of learning and development. The General Social Care Council recognize Continued Professional Development activities in terms of hours whereas the Health Professions Council emphasizes relevance to practice and the protection of the public.

On a practical level, there will be an increase in the registration fee. The changes will begin to come into effect from the 31st July 2012. The HPC will start charging social workers in December 2012.   There will be one date per year for all social workers to register. Newly qualified social workers who register within 6 months of qualification will pay half the standard fee for the first two years after qualification .

How can I look after my own wellbeing?

Many organisations (especially those who have gained Mindful Employer status) will have support mechanisms for staff to promote and maintain their wellbeing. They are usually administered via the Human Resources section of the organisation.

Five Ways to Wellbeing – a summary: 

  1. Connect – With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community.
    Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
  2. Be active – Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance.
    Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
  3. Take notice – Be curious – Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are on a train, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware – of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
  4. Keep learning – Try something new – Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.
    Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.
  5. Give – Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.”
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