Crossing Borders: Social work employers’ and managers’ perspectives of migrant social workers

Dr Allen Bartley, Senior Lecturer, Counselling, Human Services and Social Work, University of Auckland. From July 2014: Visiting Research Fellow, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.

Dr Shereen Hussein, Principal Research Fellow, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London.

Dr Allen Bartley is an ‘embedded sociologist’ in the social work programme in the School of Counselling, Human Services & Social Work at the University of Auckland. He is part of a research team investigating the transnational dynamics of the social work workforce in New Zealand. Under the rubric ‘Crossing Borders,’ the team has conducted a study of overseas-qualified social workers practising in New Zealand, and a smaller study of New Zealand-qualified social workers practising in the Republic of Ireland. Two further studies are currently underway: a survey of returning transnational social workers in New Zealand, and a study of Auckland social work employers and professional managers about the practice implications (both challenges and opportunities) presented by the employment of migrant professionals in the local workforce.

As part of the Research On Workforce Mobility network (ROWM) at King’s College London, the Crossing Borders team has partnered with Dr Shereen Hussein, Principal Research Fellow at King’s, to replicate in London the study currently underway in Auckland. This involves interviewing social work employers and managers about their experiences of supervising foreign-qualified social workers practising in the local context. Ideally these participants will be drawn from both statutory and NGO organisations of varying sizes (from very small to very large), and across a range of fields of practice. It is expected that each interview will take 60-90 minutes, and will address their professional role; their experiences with overseas-qualified social workers; and their observations on the transnational dynamics of the profession in London and beyond.

The aim of all of these studies is to conceptualise social work as operating in a transnational professional space, and to better understand the dynamics of the transnational professional space as it impacts on the social work workforce, employers, the wider profession, and service-users and their communities.

This study has received ethical approval from King’s College London REP/13/14-80.

Read Dr Bartley’s call for participants in his post on the Social Care Workforce Research Unit’s blogInformation Sheet for Participants

Online survey

‘Have you been qualified as a social worker from outside the UK. If yes, please participate in our online survey


Hussein, S. (2014, online) ‘Hierarchichal challenges to transnational social workers’ mobility: the United Kingdom as a destination within an expanding European Union’, British Journal of Social Work. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcu050

Fouché, C., Beddoe, L., Bartley, A., & Brenton, N. (2013). Strengths and struggles: Overseas qualified social workers’ experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand. Australian Social Work, 1-16. doi:10.1080/0312407x.2013.783604

Fouché, C., Beddoe, L., Bartley, A., & de Haan, I. (2013). Enduring professional dislocation: Migrant social workers’ perceptions of their professional roles. British Journal of Social Work. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bct054

Bartley, A., Beddoe , L., Fouché , C. B., & Harington, P. (2012). Transnational social workers: Making the profession a transnational professional space. International Journal of Population Research, vol. 2012 (Article ID 527510), 11pp. doi:10.1155/2012/527510

Beddoe, L., Fouché, C., Bartley, A., & Harington, P. (2011) Migrant social workers’ experience in New Zealand: education and supervision issues. Social Work Education, 1-20. First published 11 November 2011 doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.633600

Bartley, A., Beddoe, L., Duke, J., Fouché, C., Harington, P. R. J., & Shah, R. (2011). Crossing Borders: Key features of migrant social workers in New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 23(3), 16-30.