How do we prepare students for the challenges of social work? Examples from six countries around the world

Pia Tham, Paula Mc Fadden, Erica Russ, Andreas Baldschun, Paul Blakeman, Austin Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we provide a descriptive comparison of the similarities and differences between social work education at six different universities situated in Australia, England, Finland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and the United States. The aim was to begin an international conversation by examining the similarities and differences in these examples, around admissions and recruitment processes, professional training, and field practicum to prepare social work students for practice and to consider any implications that differing models of recruitment and training might have for the students’ preparedness for the challenges of social work. The findings reflect common characteristics relating to the curriculum, such as skills training, reflective practice and application of theory into practice. Differences include a range of approaches to professional regulation, admissions and selection, duration of courses and practicum during training. The complexities of trying to measure similarities and differences across diverse models of education are recognised, including the difficulties stemming from different factors being relevant in diverse geographic regions across diverse contexts. The authors suggest that starting an international discussion allows us to learn from one another and may serve as a catalyst for future progress in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work Education: The International Journal
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • newly educated social workers
  • social work students
  • readiness
  • social work education
  • Cross-country comparison
  • transition


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